Museum of Arts and Design Announces Retrospective Reframing David Bowie as an Artist Working in Performance

David Bowie, Artist, a public program, will celebrate this singular talent who has continued to be a constant innovator in performance-based practices. Expanding past his notoriety as a musician, David Bowie, Artist showcases the too-often-overlooked diversity and multifaceted nature of Bowie’s total artistic output. Presented in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, this multi-platform retrospective—including a film series as well as kiosks showing music videos, interviews, concert footage and other audio-visual documentation—will run from May 9 to July 15, 2011. The cinema series begins on June 3 and will conclude with the screening of a new 35mm print of “The Man Who Fell to Earth at Film” Forum from June 24 – July 7, 2011.

David Bowie has been a major figure and force in music, film, fashion, art, and a multitude of creative disciplines over the last five decades. With an innate ability to shift and shape his persona, style, and creative direction, Bowie has crafted a powerful fusion of music, culture, and other performance practices—one that has become the blueprint for contemporary artists working in performance.

With training in mime from Lindsay Kemp, and roots in avant-garde theater, cabaret, and musical-based performance, Bowie merged these diverse disciplines into his highly influential character project: an otherworldly creature with bright red hair, a sparkly suit and platform shoes named Ziggy Stardust. Raising stagecraft to new heights in the 1970s with his rock spectacle cum tour, which synthesized theater, video, art, and music, Bowie pushed the boundaries of performance.

During his meteoric rise to superstardom, Bowie continued to work on and off the screen, taking memorable roles in film and theatre. He impressed critics and audiences with his turn on Broadway in “The Elephant Man,” and his many onscreen roles most notably as a humanoid alien in “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” a goblin king in “The Labyrinth,” a British officer in “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” and as Andy Warhol in “Basquiat.”

In addition to working as a film actor, a fine artist, and collaborating on music videos, Bowie has also been an Internet pioneer. For these endeavors, in 2007, he received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.


David Bowie, Artist is a retrospective presented by The Museum of Arts and Design. Film screenings will be held in the Theater at MAD, at 2 Columbus Circle, except for a special two-week run of a new 35mm print of “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” which will screen at Film Forum, at 209 West Houston Street.

David Bowie, Artist is programmed by Jake Yuzna, Manager of Public Programs.

The Museum of Arts and Design explores what Chief Curator David R. McFadden calls “the blur zone between art, design, and craft today.” It focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to the digital. The Museum’s exhibition program examines and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights invention and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by gifted and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day. Central to the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families, and adults. Its Open Studios enable visitors to engage artists at work and further enhance exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances, and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft, and design are held in the building’s historic 144-seat auditorium.

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