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.