Through music and lyrics, David Bowie was an alien, a space-boy from Mars, and a Goblin King. But through visual art, he was much more. While he floated in the quicksand of his thoughts, Bowie painted and collected visual art as a form of historical discipline and creative therapy.
Sotheby’s in London is currently holding a free public exhibition showcasing his private collection of over 350 art pieces. From 10-11 November, an auction will be held, with some pieces such as Air Power by Basquiat expecting to go for £2,500,000–3,500,000.
As if he wasn’t a talented enough musician, David Bowie’s art collection has emerged, showcasing his skills as a curator, historian, and an artist himself.
Although recognised as an icon in the music industry, Bowie was deeply and passionately involved with art. Finding the right piece involved knowing everything about its history and nature. Friend and curator Beth Greenacre believes “he was an amazing historian. He was always looking backward to understand the present – and even prophesied about the future.”
He meticulously studied art, she says – “David did go to sites to understand the work that was being made.” As his curator from 1992 to 2002, Kate Chertavian says that “his engagement was intense. He came to it with tremendous curiosity. He seemed to like to dig deep and enthusiastically into something – it became an occupation.”
Unlike his austere manner of collecting, when it came to making art himself, a different attitude emerged. One of Bowie’s most compelling pieces, Beautiful, Hallo, Space-Boy Painting (1995), a spin-painting in collaboration with Damien Hirst, reveals a youthful disposition.
On the experience of working with Bowie, Hirst recalls: “David was like a child, childish and childlike when he came to see me in the studio and we made a giant spin painting together”
The expected price of this piece is estimated at £250,000–350,000.