Saturday, January 16, 2016

David Bowie never limited himself to any one art form

The world was rocked when news of David Bowie’s death hit Jan. 10. The British singer and multi-instrumentalist had a long career in music which ended with one last album, a carefully planned farewell to his fans called “Blackstar.”

Fans mourn David Bowie in numerous memorials around the world
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

While most fans know Bowie because of his musical career which spanned more than fifty years, some may be surprised to learn that he wasn’t just a musical artist. He was also a big art collector, a voracious reader, a visual artist and writer. He was a creative who supported many other facets of the arts just as much as he was influenced by them.

“Bowie was curious about everything in the world, whether it had to do with gender issues, jazz, movement—he understood the symbolic significance of any gesture or thought form. He was able to use it as food for his own art,” wrote avant garde pianist Matthew Shipp in an exclusive email exchange with “Bowie was a great model for all artistsof any genre because he utilized the symbolic nature of everything. He was also fearless in his ability to explore the many aspects of his many selves.”

One of Bowie’s many talents included painting. He had started painting as a practice in 1976 to help distract him from depression and the stressors of the the music business. He returned full-fledged to music and picked up visual art again in the 1990s, reports the New York Times Jan. 14

During that time, Bowie joined the board of the British magazine Modern Painters and personally interviewed many contemporary artists of note including: Balthus, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel. During his stint with the magazine, he also created a lot of work of his own. He was prolific, creating hundreds of pieces of art using paint, chalk, charcoal and other mediums.

According to the Independent, Bowie even helped create a fictitious artist named Nat Tate, a man who was a supposed Abstract Expressionist who destroyed 99 percent of his work and killed himself by jumping off the Staten Island ferry. Tate’s story was told in a book written by William Boyd, a best-selling UK writer who was integral in the creation of the hoax. The book was published with a publishing venture that Bowie created called “21.”

David Bowie never stopped creating, not even during his seeming retirement from celebrity in 2004. He continued painting, designing, and exploring new expressions of art while intermittently contributing more music to his canon.

*originally published at the now defunct

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