When we heard “David Bowie Is” was coming to the Museum of Contemporary of Art there was no way we were not going. We can write a book on David Bowie’s life and how he has been both an icon and innovator for the last four decades, but we don’t have that kind of time. He is a singer, songwriter, artist, actor and producer, known for his distinctive voice and intellectual depth. Aside from his musical talents he is known for his androgynous beauty, which helped him gain popularity in the 1970’s and 1980’s and influenced other artists as well.
The “David Bowie Is” exhibit contains more than 400 objects from the David Bowie archives including costumes, original drawings, set designs, handwritten lyrics, handwritten set lists and much more, all organized in chronological order from his teenage years to his life in the early 2000’s.
There are two things that make this exhibit truly unique: 1. When entering the exhibit your are given a pair of headphones. As you are moving through the life and stages of David Bowie the song and interviews change depending on where you are. You can read the handwritten lyrics of Ziggy Stardust while the song plays in your headphones or you can walk across the room and watch his flamboyant 1979 Saturday Night Live performance on a television as the music from his set is playing in your headphones. It’s very futuristic. 2. It is amazing, creepy, and genius to see how his mind and artistic process works–especially before computers and iPhones were around. Everything is handwritten, from lyrics to set lists to random letters. He didn’t just care about the music, but his image as well. He designed all of his costumes as well as drew out how his makeup and hair would look with his outfits. It was really cool to see suits he wanted drawn out and displayed throughout the exhibit. Even with all the information and artifacts presented it is easy to feel like you have no idea how his brain and artistic process works.
We’ve attached a David Bowie playlist because once you leave the exhibit you’ll have his entire discography in your head for days to come– and it’s all really great and groovy.
“David Bowie Is” runs through January 4th at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Be sure to give yourself at least ninety minutes to go through the entire exhibit. The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue. For ticket information: mcachicago.org/bowie.