Get Your Bowie on at This Phenomenal Brooklyn Museum Exhibition

The blockbuster "David Bowie Is" show has delighted visitors on both sides of the pond. Take in Bowie's musical genius on your next NYC visit.

Photo By: Brian Ward/The David Bowie Archive

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: Masayoshi Sukita/The David Bowie Archive

Photo By: David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: Masayoshi Sukita/The David Bowie Archive

Photo By: Terry O'Neill/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: Doug McKenzie/The David Bowie Archive

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: Roy Ainsworth/The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: The David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: David Bowie Archive/Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo By: Duffy Archive and The David Bowie Archive

"David Bowie Is" Exhibition

David Bowie, 1971. Photograph by Brian Ward. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive.

"David Bowie Is" features an immersive treasure trove of David Bowie artifacts, film, video, performance, song lyrics. Bowie's own artwork and enough content to satisfy even the most ardent Bowie fan. This highly-recommended show runs through July 15 at the Brooklyn Museum.

"Life on Mars" Suit

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.Part of the fun of the "David Bowie Is" show at the Brooklyn Museum is the feeling of being surrounded by not only Bowie's own creativity but the boundless depth and devotion of his fans. From elderly to Baby Boomer, Gen X and Millennial viewers, the exhibition also attracts a fair number of small children, including a little boy on the day I attended in a black cape and "Aladdin Sane" lightning bolt painted across his face. Not unlike a concert, the wall of sound and visuals creates an ambiance and communal energy rare for an art exhibition.

David Bowie "Heroes" Contact Sheet

"Heroes" contact sheet, 1977. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive."David Bowie Is" has been critically acclaimed and features more than 400 objects, mostly drawn from the David Bowie Archive. The exhibition follows Bowie from his teenage years growing up in Brixton, England, to the twenty years in which he lived in New York City, until his death in 2016.

Self-Portrait

Print after a self-portrait by David Bowie, 1978. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

An immersive portrait of a multi-dimensional talent, "David Bowie Is" features not just a constant soundtrack of both music and interviews that viewers can access through headphones, but real insight into the renowned musician's boundless creativity. Original drawings and paintings done by Bowie are on display, as well as examples of the musician's lifelong interest in avant-garde performance, including mime.

Performance Style

David Bowie, 1973. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive.

A good portion of "David Bowie Is" is devoted to Bowie's experimentation in performance and costume for his live shows and videos. Bowie collaborated with fashion visionaries including Alexander McQueen, Kansai Yamamoto, Natasha Korniloff and his longtime tailor Freddie Burretti on the shape-shifting and inspired costumes that defined his shows.

Diamond Dogs Promo

Promotional photograph of David Bowie for "Diamond Dogs," 1974. Photograph by Terry O'Neill. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

The blockbuster exhibition "David Bowie Is" broke all attendance records at London's Victoria and Albert Museum where it opened. The show, now at the Brooklyn Museum, surveys the incredible creativity of the musical artist, from his experiments with language to his fascination with Japanese theater and mime and through his final album Blackstar before he succumbed to cancer in 2016. Fascinating detours in the survey include Bowie's lifelong fascination with Little Richard, his residency in Berlin in the 1970s where he shared an apartment with Iggy Pop and attempted to kick drugs and a film of Bowie meeting Andy Warhol for the first time in his New York Factory creative headquarters.

Handwritten Lyrics

Original lyrics for "Ziggy Stardust, " by David Bowie, 1972. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Numerous handwritten diary entries and song lyrics are included in "David Bowie Is," where Bowie's circle-dotted "i"'s and unique writing style give an intimate look into the musician's life.

Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitar from the "Space Oddity " era, 1969. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

Black and White Bowie

David Bowie, 1966. Photograph by Doug McKenzie. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive.

Born David Jones, Bowie spent his 55-year career perpetually reinventing his look, sound and performance style. That ability to morph and grow proved an enormous influence on other musicians, from Lady Gaga and Madonna to Beyonce, Boy George and Morrissey.

Kansai Yamamoto Bodysuit

Asymmetric knitted bodysuit, 1973. Designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the "Aladdin Sane" tour. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

The most-visited exhibition in the history of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, where "David Bowie Is" originated, this ground-breaking show features many costumes. Included is this bodysuit designed by Japanese visionary Kansai Yamamoto who created pieces for Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" and "Ziggy Stardust" tours. Yamamoto's designs were influenced by the Japanese concept of Basara, founded on excess and eccentricity.

Bowie and Burroughs

David Bowie with William Burroughs, February 1974. Photograph by Terry O'Neill with color by David Bowie. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bowie and subversive novelist William Burroughs both experimented with the cut-up technique pioneered by Burroughs in which writing or words from magazines or newspapers are cut up and words mixed together to be reassembled at random. Beginning in the 1970s, Bowie often used the cut-up mixing of words to create his song lyrics.

Kon-rads

Publicity photograph for The Kon-rads, 1963. Photograph by Roy Ainsworth. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bowie initially played the saxophone in an early band, the Kon-rads but eventually sang lead vocals in the band.

"Diamond Dogs" Set

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.

Bowie wanted to adapt George Orwell's "1984" into a stage musical but Orwell's widow denied him the rights. As an alternative, Bowie created the dystopian "Diamond Dogs" tour and accompanying set.

Bowie's Cut-Up Lyrics

Cut up lyrics for "Blackout" from Heroes, 1977. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

One of the pleasures of "David Bowie Is" is witnessing a lifelong creative at work, from his early days in England absorbing the literature, film and music that would inform his own work to his later years when Bowie continued to collaborate with an impressive number of performers, choreographers, performance artists, costumes designers, musicians and writers. David Bowie experimented with language, costume, performance and music throughout his career. Beginning in the 1970s, Bowie used an innovative "cut-up" technique to randomly arrange his song lyrics into surprising new configurations.

Glam Bam

Photograph from the album cover shoot for "Aladdin Sane," 1973. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive.

Part of Bowie's mystique was his ability to continually reinvent himself, through various personas from Major Tom, to the Thin White Duke to his Aladdin Sane persona, the glam follow-up to Ziggy Stardust. Bowie's performances drew from Surrealism, mime, Japanese kabuki theater, German Expressionism and Bertolt Brecht. The "David Bowie Is" exhibition on view through July 15 at the Brooklyn Museum draws in part from Bowie's own 7,000-piece personal archive.

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