Bowie in Berlin – Between Expressionism and Nightlife

The international exhibition about the pop and style icon David Bowie in Berlin

Brian-Duffy-Aladdin-Sane (Large)This exhibition curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London sees the myth of the exceptional artist returning to the city where he wrote music history at the end of the 1970s. Berlin owes him its links to international pop culture.

Divided Cold War Berlin – which in the 1970s became a refuge for drop-outs, artists, mavericks and draft dodgers – was a safe haven for Bowie and a constant, dynamic source of inspiration. He lived in the city, which was still heavily marked by the War, from 1976 to 1978; these be some of his most productive years, resulting in the three albums of the so-called „Berlin Trilogy“: Low, Heroes (both 1977) and Lodger (1979).

Acoustic-guitar-from-Space-Oddity-era-1969-DB-Archive-orig (Large)The exhibition

Relying on state of the art multimedia technology, David Bowie creates an immersive exhibition experience revolving around the exceptional artist, focusing on the many sidedness of Bowie’s oeuvre and the close interplay of his numerous disciplines and forms of expression. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London was given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international exhibition about Bowie’s extraordinary career and celebrate one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times. The exhibition David Bowie explores the creative processes of a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades. The V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh selected more than 300 objects that were brought together for the very first time. They include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork. The exhibition honours Bowie’s progressive approach through its immersive audio-visual design, which fuses image and sound into a unique exhibition experience.

Origional-lyrics-Ziggy-Stardust (Large)The exhibition David Bowie retraces his career in great detail – from David Robert Jones’
early years as a young London artist until he became the global superstar Bowie. 60
stage costumes are presented, including the Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie
Burretti (1972), Kansai Yamamoto’s extravagant designs for the Aladdin Sane tour
(1973) as well as the iconic Union Jack coat that Bowie designed together with
Alexander McQueen for the album cover of Earthling (1997).

DavidBowie_Sukita25 (Large)Other objects include photographs by Brian Duffy, Terry O’Neill, Masayoshi Sukita, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts and John Rowlands; album covers by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell, clips from films and live concerts, including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Saturday Night Live (1979); music videos of such songs as Boys Keep Swinging (1979) and Let’s Dance (1983); the stage set for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974); unpublished storyboards, handwritten set lists and song lyrics, word collages as well as drawings, notes and diary entries from Bowie’s personal collection.

Stage-set-model-for-diamond-dogs-tour (Large)David Bowie in Berlin

Due to Bowie’s close ties to the city, the exhibition’s station in Berlin is one of the
highlights of its international tour. The city’s rich cultural past and the buzzing subcultures
of the 1970s provided further inspiration. Exclusively for Berlin, the exhibition’s section on
the German capital has been expanded by the organisers, international communications
agency Avantgarde. Project manager for the exhibition Sarah Zimmermann explains the
idea behind developing the content of the Berlin section: „We never doubted for an
instant that the exhibition David Bowie belongs to Berlin. We quickly realised that we wanted to highlight Bowie’s creative period in the divided city more strongly. The focus lies on his sources of inspiration, the people he met and the places that influenced him.“

Schluessel_zur_Hauptstraße155 (Large)The newly selected exhibits, many of which are on public display for the first time in Berlin, illustrate David Bowie’s artistic development during his time in the German capital. They include sketches for record covers, drawings and paintings by David Bowie, song lyrics and previously unpublished photographs.

bowie_photo_collage (Large)David Bowie was strongly drawn to German Expressionism and the artists of „Die
Brücke“ in particular. He frequently visited the Brücke Museum in Dahlem. Avantgarde is
pleased to be able to show the oil painting Roquairol (1917) and the colour woodcut
Männerbildnis („Portrait of a Man“) (1919) by Expressionist artist Erich Heckel, two
milestones in Bowie’s connection of Expressionist creative forms with his own artistic
endeavours in Berlin. While Roquairol influenced the pose struck on the Iggy Pop cover
for The Idiot (1977, production and cover photograph by David Bowie), the
Männerbildnis influenced the „Heroes“ cover (1977).

Roquairol (Large)A large photo collage of Bowie’s 1970s Berlin, including photographic material that has
never been on public display before, creates a bridge for visitors between the events that
occurred nearly 40 years ago and today’s Berlin. Places and people significant for Bowie
during his Berlin years are introduced, including the Hauptstraße 155 in Schöneberg the
Hansa Studios („The Hall by the Wall“), nightclubs such as Dschungel, Chez Romy Haag
or SO 36, where Bowie and the international bohemian scene honed both their own
myth and the myth of the Berlin nightlife – one of radical constructions of personality, a
radical sound, and a new way of partying.

Heroes_Contact_Print (Large) David-Bowie-and-William-B-terry-Oneill (Large) Striped_bodysuit_for_Aladdin_Sane_tour_1973_Design_by_Kansai_Yamamoto_Photograph_by_Masayoshi_Sukita__Sukita_The_David_Bowie_Archive_2012 (Large)Berlin was also where Bowie filmed „Just a Gigolo“, Marlene Dietrich’s last film. The
exhibition’s extended section will show some of the correspondence between David
Bowie and Marlene Dietrich, which has never been shown to the public before. The
letters date from 1978, when both were working on the film.

CIS: bowie_konrads (Large) Mona_in_Berlin (Large) Brian-Duffy-scary-monsters (Large) Druck_eines_Selbstportraits_von_David_Bowie (Large)

Until August 24, 2014

Text and Photos: Courtesy of Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin.





Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

L1140786 (Large)Andy Warhol was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. He was born in Pittsburgh, USA, in 1928. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.

L1140813 (Large)Warhol’s art encompassed many forms of media, including hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was also a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1984, two years before his death.

Warhol also had an appreciation for intense Hollywood glamour. He once said:

„I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.“

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He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons.

L1140795 (Large) L1140796 (Large) L1140805 (Large) L1140816 (Large)Attempted murder

On June 3, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at Warhol’s studio. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced.

Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived: surgeons opened his chest and massaged his heart to help stimulate its movement again. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol’s life and art.

Solanas was arrested the day after the assault. By way of explanation, she said that Warhol „had too much control over my life.“ She was eventually sentenced to three years. After the shooting, the Factory scene became much more tightly controlled, and for many the „Factory 60s“ ended.

L1140804 (Large) L1140803 (Large)L1140801 (Large) L1140800 (Large) L1140798 (Large)„Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there – I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.“

L1140810 (Large) L1140806 (Large)Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. He coined the widely used expression „15 minutes of fame“. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is 105 million US-Dollar for a 1963 canvas titled „Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)“. Warhol’s works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. He died in February 1987.

David Bowie about Andy Warhol:

“I met him a couple of times, but we seldom shared more than platitudes. The first time we saw each other an awkward silence fell till he remarked my bright yellow shoes and started talking enthusiastically. He wanted to be very superficial. And seemingly emotionless, indifferent, just like a dead fish.

Andy always wore those silver wigs, but he never admitted it were wigs. One of his hairdressers has told me lately that he had his wigs regularly cut, like it were real hair. When the wig was trimmed, he put on another next month as if his hair had grown.”

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