Mick Rock’s Rare Photos of David Bowie Unveiled in New LA Show

Bowie is pictured in a variety of moods and intimate scenes.

Mick Rock, Bowie, Backstage Purple Trousers (1973). Photo ©Mick Rock 2016, courtesy of TASCHEN Gallery, Los Angeles.

It’s Oscar week in LA, and in the lead-up to the main event and all those gold statuettes, the city comes alive with some of the best parties of the year. Thursday night’s opening at TASCHEN gallery of “Starman Remembered & The Revenant,” a special show including photographs taken by Mick Rock of David Bowie, was bittersweet.

The show, which opens to the public on Friday, encompasses two photo essays: one comprises Rock’s images of Bowie—which is a continuation of his first show with the gallery in 2015 and is an homage to his friend and co-conspirator, David Bowie. The second series of photos were taken by Kimberly French on the set of director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film, The Revenant.

In September 2015, TASCHEN released a limited edition book Mick Rock. The Rise of David Bowie. 1972-1973 (signed by Rock and Bowie, it’s almost sold out) with a bang-up, smack down, rock-n-roll opening on a 105-degree night. Following the news of Bowie’s death last month, Rock and the gallery collaborated in the reimagining of last year’s exhibition with “Starman Remembered.” 45 prints are on view, including 15 never-before-seen photographs, ranging from performance shots to intimate backstage scenes and private portrait shoots, that span the decades the two men worked together.

“The brutality and the harshness and the beauty of these pictures, with the large wide shots, up against the sophistication of the features of David Bowie and what he brings to the arts, couldn’t be more different,” said Iñárritu at the opening. “But that is why the proposition [of the two side by side] is so eclectic and interesting.”

One of the most iconic musical artists of all time, Bowie is pictured in a variety of moods and intimate scenes—sensually cavorting in front an audience in one image and snatching a moment of quiet reflection in another—offering the viewer a point of access to the Man Who Fell To Earth.

While the juxtaposition of the photographic essays by Rock and French may be strange to experience at first, after staying with it for a while, a dialogue between the two ultimately emerges.

Rock, who is known as “the man who shot the ’70s,” is a seminal force in rock photography. His epochal images of musicians Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and David Bowie—particularly during the Ziggy Stardust years—provide an unflinching look at the evolution of a legend. French has been heralded for her photographs on the sets of films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Assassination of Jesse James, which give viewers an unadulterated glimpse into the challenges faced by the crew in the harsh and difficult conditions during filming.

What these two artists give us is a window into the life of fame while simultaneously showing us the pain and the struggle these artists endured in the creation of their art. For Rock, who knew Bowie for nearly 50 years, this was a difficult moment of reflection.

“It still hard you know, I miss him terribly,” said Rock. “Everyone knew him as the rock-n-roll legend. And of course, he certainly was that…but I knew him as just David.”

The exhibition Starman Remembered & The Revenant is on view through March 31st, 2016 at TASCHEN Gallery, 8070 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.

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