This carefully curated private collection by late musician, actor, and icon David Bowie, is a stunning decades-long culmination of his eclectic taste. Set to be revealed for the first time at an exhibition and auction at Sotheby's in London, from Nov. 1 to 10, "Bowie/Collector" includes a range of artists and designers from American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, and German-born, British painter Frank Auerbach.
According to a press release by Sotheby's, the exhibition will be a three-part sale that includes about 400 items in categories of Modern & Contemporary, and Post-Modernist Design, with the former being split into two-part auctions. Previews of the show will tour around London, Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong from July through October, before its grand opening in the U.K.
No stranger to the art world, Bowie joined the editorial board of Modern Painters magazine (now published in New York by Louise Blouin Media) in 1994, and established his own art book publishing company, 21, with then editor of Modern Painters Karen Wright, gallerist Bernard Jacobson, and English businessman Sir Timothy Sainsbury, in 1998. Born and raised in South London, a majority of Bowie's collection is comprised of, but not limited to British artists. However, Bowie didn't just collect art—he also made it, and was active in the art communities of London and New York.
“As a collector, Bowie looked for artists with whom he felt some connection, and for works that had the power to move or inspire him," says Simon Hucker, senior specialist in modern and post-war British art at Sotheby's, in a press release, "This is what led him to British art of the early and mid-20th century in particular, which, of course, also led him home.”
Bowie's numerous ties to the art world were especially apparent in his connection to Brooklyn, N.Y.–born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (born to immigrants of Haitian and Puero Rican descent) who integrated social commentary into his neo-expressionist works on race, politics, and class. Bowie played the artist's mentor, Andy Warhol, in the eponymous film Basquiat (1996), and also wrote a piece on his work in Modern Painters that same year. Readers can see a more personal perspective in the article when he says, “It comes as no surprise to learn that [Basquiat] had a not-so-hidden ambition to be a rock musician, as his work relates to rock in ways that very few other visual artists get near.”
The rockstar has also praised Auerbach's work, referring to the figurative painter's 1965 piece titled, "Head of Gerda Boehm" when, in a 1998 New York Times article, he said, "...I want to sound like that looks." This quote reveals a deeper level of appreciation for the School of London pupil's work, who often portrayed vibrant depictions of people and landscapes native to the London area.
Though Bowie passed away earlier this year, this exhibition and auction will shed new light on his lesser-known passion for fine art, and provide more insight into mind of one of the most innovative individuals of the 20th-century.