David Bowie on his Favorite Art: “I want to sound like that looks”

Artsy Editorial
Jun 19, 2013 1:20PM

It would be difficult not to feel David Bowie’s presence this summer in London—the South London-born rockstar and pop culture chameleon holds a power that transcends the stardust-filled ’70s where his androgynous, glam rock persona Ziggy Stardust helped garner an everlasting cult following. Beginning June 21st—in addition to the “David Bowie is” retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London—a new exhibition at London’s Opera Gallery honors the star with Bowie-incarnations by renowned contemporary and street artists. But while “The Many Faces of David Bowie” has other artists looking to Bowie, where does he direct his gaze? Unsurprisingly, the musician is a passionate art collector who has—since the start—welcomed the work of artists to influence his own art:

“Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own,” he said in an interview in 1998. “It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way that I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through. For instance, somebody I like very much indeed is Frank Auerbach. I think there are some mornings that if we hit each other a certain way—myself and a portrait by Auerbach—the work can magnify the kind of depression I’m going through. It will give spiritual weight to my angst. Some mornings I’ll look at it and go, ‘Oh, God, yeah! I know!’ But that same painting, on a different day, can produce in me an incredible feeling of the triumph of trying to express myself as an artist. I can look at it and say, ‘My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks.’”

“The Many Faces of Bowie” is on view at Opera Gallery London from June 21 through August 31, 2013.

Artsy Editorial