Bowie & Basquiat at Bowie/ Collector

Selected pieces from David Bowie’s extensive art collection are on show at Sotheby’s, at the Bowie/Collector exhibition until November 2016.

The artists featuring in Bowie’s collection range from Frank Auerbach to Damien Hirst and Jean- Michel Basquiat, encompassing a variety of mediums from paintings (including some of Hirst’s rarer colour wheel paintings) to installation art, with the most unusual pieces designed by Ettore Sottsass, an Italian artist also famous for his angular, avant-garde architectural style. Bowie was a strong supporter of British artists, and these feature very prominently in his collection at Sotheby’s, with the majority of the other pieces by European artists. These include Sottsass and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was, interestingly, inspired by medical anatomy.

Basquiat, the golden child of the 1980s New York art scene, was heavily influenced by human anatomy, which is reflected in his paintings. He came across a copy of Gray’s anatomy during a stay in hospital, and was so fascinated he reportedly read the entire book within a month. This influence recurred in many of his paintings, of which ‘Leeches’ and ‘Early Moses’ are excellent examples, featuring Basquiat’s own take on the anatomy of the heart, bone and brain.

One of the key motifs visible across his portfolio is the intentional childlike, simplistic appearance of his work- Basquiat is actually quoted as saying that he wanted to ‘make paintings that look as if they were made by a child’, something which makes his works more accessible and allows the audience to decipher the painting to whichever depths they choose. Bowie owned many of Basquiat’s works, and even played Basquiat’s mentor, Andy Warhol, in the posthumous biopic Basquiat.

The art featured in the collection at Sotheby’s will be auctioned in three parts during November, with Basquiat’s work alone expected to fetch in excess of £3 million. From November 4th-6th, there will be a series of talks at Sotheby’s, discussing Bowie’s art collection, his music and the fashion and design influences during his five- decade long career.



Leeches, Basquiat


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