David Bowie Retrospective Touches Down in Chicago

This is the only chance for US fans to see the Ziggy Stardust suit in person.

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David Bowie, 1973. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive.
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Striped bodysuit for "Aladdin Sane" tour, 1973. Design: Kansai Yamamoto.
Photo: Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012.
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Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
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Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
David Bowie:Ziggy Stardust
Metallic bodysuit, 1973. Designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the "Aladdin Sane" tour.
Courtesy The David Bowie Archive. Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
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Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
CIS:E.315-2011
Promotional photograph of David Bowie for Diamond Dogs, 1974.
Photo: Terry O'Neill. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
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David Bowie and William Burroughs, 1974.
Photo: Terry O'Neill. Hand coloring: David Bowie. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012. Image © V&A Images.
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Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Original lyrics for Ziggy Stardust, by David Bowie, 1972. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Original lyrics for "Ziggy Stardust," by David Bowie, 1972.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Archer, Station to Station tour, 1976. Photo: John Rowlands. © John Robert Rowlands.
The Archer, "Station to Station" tour, 1976.
Photo: John Rowlands. © John Robert Rowlands.
Stage set model for the Diamond Dogs tour 1974. Designed by Jules Fisher and Mark Ravitz. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Stage set model for the "Diamond Dogs" tour 1974.
Designed by Jules Fisher and Mark Ravitz. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Installation view, David Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago
Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago
Quilted two-piece suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the Ziggy Stardust tour. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Quilted two-piece suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the "Ziggy Stardust" tour.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Installation view, David Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago
Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago
Ice-blue suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the Life on Mars? video. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Ice-blue suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the "Life on Mars?" video.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Installation view, David Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Installation view, David Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Installation view, David Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Installation view, "David Bowie Is," MCA Chicago. September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015.
Photo: Nathan Keay, © The David Bowie Archive. Courtesy of the MCA Chicago.
Photo collage of manipulated film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth, c. 1975-6. Design: David Bowie; film stills: David James. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012. Film stills © STUDIOCANAL Films Ltd. Image © V&A Images.
Photo collage of manipulated film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth, c. 1975-6. Design: David Bowie; film stills: David James.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012. Film stills © STUDIOCANAL Films Ltd. Image © V&A Images.
David Bowie, 1973. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive.
David Bowie (1973). Photo by Masayoshi Sukita. ©Sukita/The David Bowie Archive.
Red platform boots for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.
Red platform boots for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Music icon, style avant-gardist, and artistic chameleon David Bowie is having a moment.

David Bowie Is,” a traveling museum retrospective, has just opened for its only US stop at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It began at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and its previous stop was the Martin Gropius Bau Berlin (see “Tap into David Bowie’s Creative Core“). With over 400 objects—mostly taken from the David Bowie Archive—including never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics, and some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores, and diary entries. Other memorabilia including original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from his uniquely rich career, are all brought together under one roof for the very first time.

The retrospective showcases the full range of Bowie’s work, spanning five decades, and how it has both influenced, and been influenced by, cultural movements in art, design, and theater. The show immerses visitors in the sights and sounds of the pop star’s life by focusing on his creative process, shape-shifting style, and collaborative work with notable people in the fashion, sound, graphics, theater, and film industries.

Organized chronologically, the show looks at the artist’s evolution from his teenage years in the 1950s to his retirement from touring in the early 2000s. On display are more than 60 stage costumes, including the iconic Ziggy Stardust bodysuits designed by Freddie Burretti (1972), as well as excerpts from live performances, music videos, and films he has starred in including Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). There’s something here for everyone, from music lovers and fashion aficionados, to theater geeks and film buffs—and, of course, Bowie mega-fans.

For those who can’t make it to Chicago between now and when the exhibition closes, on January 4, 2015—or Chicagoans who want to whet their appetites—we’ve gathered images of some of the standout pieces. We recommend scrolling through to his catchy tune, Modern Love.

David Bowie Is” was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It will be on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago until January 4, 2015.

Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973. Design: Brian Duffy and Celia Philo; make up: Pierre La Roche. Photo: Brian Duffy. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive.

Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973. Design: Brian Duffy and Celia Philo; make up: Pierre La Roche. Photo: Brian Duffy. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive.


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