Here at EzeFrame we love anything to do with art, creativity or picture framing. So you can imagine how delighted we were to get a glimpse at the art collection owned by the late – and much missed – David Bowie. Not only was Bowie a legendary musician, celebrated around the world for seminal albums such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory, he was also a cult movie star, a fashion icon, a refreshingly alternative sex symbol, and a serious art junkie.
As a young man, Bowie studied art and design at technical college. He went on to become a painter himself, producing many abstract works clearly influenced by post-expressionism and British painters such as Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. Bowie also developed a self-confessed addiction for buying art and furniture. Since his death in January of this year, his family have decided to sell a large portion of his collection as they simply don’t have space to store it.
As a result, Sotheby’s auction house in London will be displaying a huge number of Bowie’s works this November, before putting them on sale. In total, the auction is expected to raise £10 million – although, given the level of Bowie’s fame, that number could well be higher.
In honour of this exciting occasion, we took at look at Bowie’s art collection, picking out five of the best works that will be displayed this November.
Witness, Peter Lanyon (1961)
Though not widely known, the Cornish abstract expressionist painter Peter Lanyon was a particular favourite of Bowie’s. In 2010, the Tate gallery in St Ives held a Lanyon retrospective, and received three canvases on loan from Bowie’s private collection. An interesting fact about Lanyon is that he was inspired by his experience of taking to the skies in a glider, something which allowed him to see the sea, sky and land from new perspectives. In the case of Witness, there’s something about the striking black and white paint strokes that reflects the dark, angular, chaotic aspects of Bowie’s work. We can certainly see why he loved this painting.
“Beautiful, shattering, slashing, violent, pinky, hacking, sphincter painting”, Damien Hirst (1995)
Bowie loved the work of Damien Hirst, famously interviewing the divisive modern painter back in 1996. This painting is one of two that will reportedly be making an appearance in the Sotheby’s exhibition and sale, and belongs to the category of Hirst’s”spin paintings”. Created using a fast-spinning machine, a circular canvas and a palette of bright paints, this two-metre wide picture was one of Hirst’s first solo efforts using this method. Perhaps most interesting is that it came after a canvas created by Hirst in collaboration with Bowie,titled “Beautiful Hallo Spaceboy Painting”.
“Interior (Mrs Mounter)”, Harold Gilman (1917)
Bowie was a fan of the artist Harold Gilman, a British painter who specialised in landscapes, interiors and portraits. Two years before he died during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919, Gilman painted this muted interior; a painting which recalls the work of Edward Hopper and Johannes Vermeer in its use of light and perspective. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this painting, though, is how different it is to many of the other works in Bowie’s collection. Simon Hucker, an art specialist at Sotheby’s, has shed light on this by talking about Bowie’s personal connection to this kind of suburban, quintessentially British art. Bowie may have loved abstract expressionism, but he also loved Britain.
“Head of Gerda Boehm”, Frank Auerbach (1965)
Of all the painters who inspired Bowie, Frank Auerbach has to be one of the most important. Several of Auerbach’s paintings are said to be a part of Bowie’s collection, with “Head of Gerda Boehm” being a particular highlight. This 1965 work depicts the artist’s cousin Gerda, and epitomises the dense, vivid, sculptural quality of Auerbach’s works that so appealed to Bowie – indeed, Bowie famously said of his paintings “I want to sound like that looks”.
“Air Power”, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1984)
Though only 27 when he died, the American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat was hugely influential in the global art scene, famously garnering praise for the way his artworks attacked outdated power structures and systemic racism. “Air Power” is a large graffiti painting, evoking the energy, vigour and colour of Bowie’s music and personality. Astonishingly, this work alone is valued at around £3.5 million.
Bowie’s Great Art Hoax
Despite being an artist and art aficionado who tirelessly supported the creative industries, David Bowie was also a man who understood that the art world could be riddled with hypocrisy, self-importance and pretension. It’s unsurprising, then, that Bowie was involved in one of the most notorious hoaxes of the 20th century, in which he helped author William Boyd invent an entirely fictitious artist by the name of Nat Tate.
Boyd wrote a long and detailed biography of Tate, which told the tragic (and fictional) tale of his life as a penniless New York painter. Upon its completion, Bowie published the book, wrote the blurb and held a launch party in New York in the studio of Jeff Koons (who, like the majority of people there, was unaware that Tate wasn’t real). At the event, many attendees – not wanting to look ill-informed – chimed in with memories of Tate, talking about what his work meant to them. Bowie might have been a great artist himself, but he was also quite the mischief-maker.
How to Channel Bowie At Home
Most of us don’t have Bowie’s disposable income, but that doesn’t mean an art collection is out of reach. If you’ve been inspired by Bowie’s amazing artworks, don’t be afraid to get out there and start collecting your own. In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to order high-quality prints, illustrations and photographs online.
To complete the look, you can order the perfect picture frame and picture mount from EzeFrame. We supply a wide range of picture frames in a variety of colours, materials and sizes. Best of all, our picture frames are custom-built, meaning they can be tailored to the exact dimensions of your artworks.
Find out more about the picture framing services offered by EzeFrame