David Bowie Is

Edited by Victoria Broakes and Geoffrey Marsh. V&A (Abrams, dist.), $55 (320p) ISBN 978-1-85177-737-2
This companion piece to an exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum explores the iconography, fashion, and music of pop icon David Bowie. Drawn to rock'n'roll as a rebellion against his suburban London upbringing, Bowie's career has been one of constant reinvention and innovation. As a musician and composer, his influences are wide ranging: he borrows as much from contemporaries such as The Rolling Stones and German synthesizer bands Neu! and Kraftwerk as from composers Kurt Weill and frequent collaborator Brian Eno. He is also heavily influenced by broader culture, notably adopting the cut up method often employed by William Burroughs, while being "strongly influenced" by the video work of Andy Warhol. Beyond music, however, Bowie cultivated a constantly shifting sense of style—most famously as his glam rock, alien alter-ego Ziggy Stardust—his various costumes were "Dadaist in impulse and Surrealist in conception and execution." Particularly striking, however, was the cobweb body-suit he wore for The 1980 Floor Show, which features two glitter covered mannequin hands that seem to be fondling his chest as a kind of camp provocation. Indeed, as Camille Paglia notes, Bowie came to embody "the shaman and prophet who crossed into forbidden sexual terrain." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/10/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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Paperback - 978-1-85177-735-8
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