Sotheby’s aside, what many aren’t aware of is the fact that David Bowie was actively involved in the art world.
He sat on the editorial board for a magazine called Modern Painters, and co-founded an independent company devoted entirely to art books named 21 Publishing in 1997.
And he was also the proud owner and curator of an impressive personal art collection – 200 pieces from which will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in a two day event this November.
David Bowie was a musician, actor and icon, as well as a publisher, curator and magazine editor with Modern British art at the heart of those passions. Born in South London, it’s perhaps no surprise that he was drawn to chroniclers of the capital’s streets such as Harold Gilman and Frank Auerbach while he also collected St Ives-based painter Peter Lanyon in particular depth. However, his collection is by no means limited to British art alone and also encompasses Contemporary African art, self-taught artists from Vienna’s Gugging institution, as well as designs by Ettore Sottsass and the revolutionary Memphis group. Click ahead to see selected highlights from the collection, set to be unveiled in its entirety in the coming weeks and months.
“Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own,” Bowie told The New York Times in 1998. “It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it.“
The auction is officially titled “Bowie/Collector,” and is a testament to the singer’s love of the modern and the bizarre. Included in the lots is a painting by Damien Hirst with a starting price of £250,000 (approximately $333,350), a piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat estimated to be worth close to $5 million, and a sculpture of a ball of string clamped between two brass plates by Marcel Duchamp. A 1970s sideboard by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and paintings by Johann Fischer, Paul Caufield, and Frank Auerbach will also be on sale.
However, it is work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the controversial New York graffiti artist-turned painter who died of a heroin overdose aged 27, that is perhaps the jewel of Bowie’s collection, worth an estimated £3.5 million.
A further £100,000 is expected to be raised by a 120-piece lot of Bowie’s design collection, which includes a number of pieces by the eccentric Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, including the musician’s favourite record player.
A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie said that his family were “keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance,” but that it was “now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired.”
When? On the 10th and 11th of November in London. Collector’s alert.