David Bowie as art critic

Following the announcement of David Bowie’s death in January, a number of memorials have been published praising and critiquing the singer’s other contributions in the arts.  Indeed, he was not just a cultural icon involved in music, fashion, film, and theater; in the 1990s, he also wrote about contemporary art.

Bowie wrote criticism on artists, such as Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin, for the art journal, Modern PaintersYou can read his remarks on Hirst and Emin in the following issues of Modern Painters.

“(s)Now.”  Modern Painters 9.2 (Summer 1996): 36 – 39.
“It’s art, Jim, but as we know it.” Modern Painters 10.3 (Autumn 1997): 24-32.
“Super-banalism and the innocent salesman.” Modern Painters 11.1 (Spring 1998): 27-34.

In addition, Bowie’s writings on British art have been cited by, among others, Julian Stallabrass in High Art Lite. British Art in the 1990s (London: Verso Press, 1999).

To see more citations for criticism Bowie wrote about other artists or artwork, please search his name as author in ArtBibliographies Modern, available through the SMU Library Catalog.

READ more about Bowie’s art collecting:

Cascone, S. (2016). Take a Peek at David Bowie’s Idiosyncratic Art Collection. artnet News.
Artnet contributor, Sarah Cascone, looks at Bowie’s interests as a collector, primarily of British 20th-century artists, for which she includes some images in the musician’s art collection. Among these artists, he developed a relationship with Damien Hirst, who he described as his “idea of contemporary art.”

Kimmelman, M. (2016). TALKING ART WITH/David Bowie; A Musician’s Parallel Passion. New York Times.
Kimmelman’s interview provides a personal look at the musician’s engagement with art and music, and how Bowie’s use of making art helps him work out problems with finding his way through a piece of music that he is struggling to create. In a revelation that puzzles Kimmelman, Bowie says that this process is a location: “I call it landscape, but location, I think, is a better word.”


Thank you to Dr. Michael Corris, Professor of Art, Meadows School of the Art, for this guest blog.

Featured image: David Bowie performs at Tweeter Center outside Chicago in Tinley Park,IL, USA on August 8, 2002. Image by Adam Bielawski.


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