News / November 2016

The Man Who Sold The World: Bowie/Collector

When news broke of David Bowie’s untimely passing earlier this year, everyone felt it. However, those Bowie fans and collectors of fine works of art can reconnect with him, as his…

I will always remember the exact moment when I learnt of David Bowie’s death. I woke up, reached for my iPhone to turn off my irritating duck-quack alarm and then my bleary eyes pinged open to the BBC News notification: “Music legend David Bowie dies”. I’m certain that we are all in the same boat in this respect, we will always remember that moment, but also in the shared understanding that the Brixton boy completely transcended absolutely everything. Bowie was an artist and a cultural phenomenon, whose work continues to touch every single person on this earth. I am by no stretch a die-hard Bowie fan — my fondest Bowie memory was his performance in Julian Schnabel’s biopic Basquiat (1996), when he played the great Andy Warhol with such conviction it’s totally convincing — but his sudden passing was a loss felt the world over.

What I didn't know about Bowie until very recently — which only increases my appreciation for the man ten-fold — was that he was an avid, yet totally private, art collector. To quote the legend (a immortal title that he is most deserving of) from an interview in The New York Times, 1998, “Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through.”

So, Rake readers, where is this going? Well for those who are unaware, a large proportion of Bowie’s art collection is up for sale, courtesy of Sotheby’s. Beyond the confines of his immense talent in the genre of music, Bowie was also an enthusiastic artist (he painted throughout his life), critic, patron, publisher, curator and magazine editor. As a result, it’s clear that art always had an intrinsic role in his creative being and outlet and with that in mind, the collection has been curated with sheer thoughtfulness and consideration of Bowie’s personal response to art, as well as each artist’s vision.

A three-part sale, Bowie/Collector sees around 400 works from Bowie’s extensive collection of Modern and Contemporary art, many of which are being unveiled for the first time. Artists such as Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Frank Auerbach, Harold Gilman, Peter Lanyon, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst (whom he collaborated with in in 1995 when Hirst won the Turner Prize), plus many, many more all appear on the auction list. As you might have gathered, it’s a very expansive and highly impressive collection and there is certainly something for every Rake reader-come-art-aficionado looking to enrich their personal collection. Just imagine the bragging rights that come with owning a work of art that once belonged to the great David Bowie…

The Exhibition:

Bowie/Collector ends 10th November, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London

The Auctions:

Part I: Modern & Contemporary Art, Evening Auction, 10th November

Part II: Modern & Contemporary Art, Day Auction, 11th November

Part III: Post-Modernist Design: Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group, 11th November

For further information, please visit: sothebys.com/BowieCollector

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Benedict Browne

Benedict is The Rake's Associate Style Editor.