News / Arts & Entertainment

David Bowie Exhibit Breaks Box Office Records

A neon flash representing David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" stage character is seen at the entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the "David Bowie is" exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
A neon flash representing David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" stage character is seen at the entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the "David Bowie is" exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
Reuters
Ziggy played guitar. But as a new exhibition devoted to singer David Bowie's long and innovative career makes clear, he also wrote lyrics, checked every detail of his outlandish costumes, appeared in movies and helped design his own stage sets.

"David Bowie is," which runs from March 23 to Aug. 11, has broken box office records at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, with 50,000 advance tickets sold.

Organizers at a press preview on Wednesday were at pains to point out that more tickets were available and the demand underlines 66-year-old Bowie's lasting impact on music, fashion, video and beyond.

It also coincides with the release just over a week ago of Bowie's new album "The Next Day," his first new material for a decade. The record hit number one in the British album charts at the weekend, marking his return to the top after 20 years.

"His radical innovations across music, theatre, fashion and style still resound today in design and visual culture and he continues to inspire artists and designers throughout the world," said Martin Roth, director of the V&A.

A striped asymmetric catsuit by Yansai Yamamoto (1973), used by performer David Bowie, is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.A striped asymmetric catsuit by Yansai Yamamoto (1973), used by performer David Bowie, is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
x
A striped asymmetric catsuit by Yansai Yamamoto (1973), used by performer David Bowie, is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
A striped asymmetric catsuit by Yansai Yamamoto (1973), used by performer David Bowie, is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
Drawing heavily on the David Bowie Archive, the show features more than 300 objects, with pride of place going to Bowie's stage costumes which allowed him to adopt alternative personas and create an aura of mystery and invention.

Among the recognizable outfits are a striped bodysuit by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973 and the Pierrot costume by Natasha Korniloff which featured in the groundbreaking music video for "Ashes to Ashes."

"Seismic Shift"

Among the costumes on display from Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" phase is the blue, gold and red padded jumpsuit by Freddie Burretti that marked a turning point in Bowie's career.

The Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti (1972) is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.The Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti (1972) is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
x
The Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti (1972) is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
The Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti (1972) is seen at the "David Bowie is" Exhibition in London, March 20, 2013.
He wore the suit for a performance of "Starman" on Britain's TV chart show "Top of the Pops" on July 6, 1972 complete with flame-orange hair, make-up and red patent boots, representing what organizers called a "seismic shift" in pop culture.

People were intrigued and appalled in equal measure at the sight of the otherwordly androgynous being, a bold new creation which has inspired performers ever since.

True to Bowie's multimedia experimentation, the show includes footage from famous concerts shown on giant screens as well as a mime show enacted by Bowie in 1969 which anticipates the downside of becoming famous.

His attention to detail can be seen throughout.

On a design sketch for an outfit to be worn on the U.S. "Saturday Night Live" show Bowie wrote: "may be I'm wrong about color? What do you think."

He also appeared not to take himself too seriously, describing a short bodysuit, designed by Yamamoto, as his "impossibly silly 'bunny' costume."

He soaked up culture and history wherever he went, including his stay in Berlin in the late 1970s where he absorbed Brecht, cabaret and Expressionist art and produced three acclaimed albums - "Low," "Heroes" and "Lodger."

He recorded a Mandarin version of his 1997 song "Seven Years in Tibet," reflecting his interest in the region and its Buddhist religion.

The track prompted one Chinese fan to write, in a note on display at the exhibition: "I think I am flying in the sky when I listen to your Mandarin song, you know!"

The displays are accompanied by an impressive soundtrack that includes hits like "Space Oddity," "Changes" and "Under Pressure," which he released with Queen in 1981.

FILE - David Bowie arrives with his wife Iman to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.FILE - David Bowie arrives with his wife Iman to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.
x
FILE - David Bowie arrives with his wife Iman to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.
FILE - David Bowie arrives with his wife Iman to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.
In fact, all that is missing from "David Bowie is" is the man himself. If he were to visit, it would most likely be incognito, as Bowie has shunned the limelight altogether for much of the last decade.

"We're really hoping David does appear at some point," said co-curator Geoffrey Marsh.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."