Ground Control to Major Starman

bowie

(From left) Brian Duffy’s cover shot for David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album, © Duffy, 1973; David Bowie with Black Scarf, © Mick Rock, 2002

Well as a wise dude said, all things must pass. My month of happily guest-blogging for Hatje Cantz fotoblog comes to a close. Speaking of early departures, check out the dazzling David Bowie shows at Morrison Hotel Gallery. As it turns out, a couple of the key photographers will be at a private event later this week, as well as the opening of major Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. I’ll write about those events elsewhere—namely Medium.com, where I intend to continue blogging about photography, culture, environment, and other sundry subjects (as well as on jackcrager.com). Hope to see folks there. Thank you and adieu, fotoblog!

Ziggy Stardust on stage with the Spiders from Mars, © Mick Rock

Bowie as Ziggy Stardust on stage with the Spiders from Mars, © Mick Rock

I feel that David wasn’t thinking he was going when he went. The picture taken of him a few days before he died, he looked fine. I find it very difficult to look at the “Blackstar” video, even now. To be so creative right up to the end, that’s brave, that’s special.
—Photographer and close friend Mick Rock in David Bowie, A Life, by Dylan Jones

How poignant that David Bowie’s final album and testament was called Blackstar. For this man the very idea of being a star is a vast understatement. Often two or more steps ahead of his audience, Bowie shaped the starmaker machinery as much as it it shaped him. Visually and aurally the personae he inhabited—pinup wannabe Davy Jones, astronaut Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dog, gender-bender dandy, Man Who Fell to Earth, Thin White Duke, blue-eyed soulster, grand R&R statesman—are dizzyingly hard to keep track of. But plenty of brilliant photographers were on hand to try.

David Bowie, © Masayoshi Sukita, 1973

David Bowie, © Masayoshi Sukita, 1973

David Bowie, © Terry O’Neill, 1974

David Bowie, © Terry O’Neill, 1974

The breathtaking scope of Bowie’s visual odyssey underpins the multipart exhibition Bowieon view at Morrison Hotel Gallery through March 23. The show features hundreds of images spread out across the MHG’s three locations: Soho in New York City, West Hollywood in Los Angeles, and Mick Fleetwood’s joint in Maui, Hawaii. “He’s an enigma and masterpiece of his own creation,” says Marcelle Murdock, director of the New York MHG location. “It’s no secret that the multitudes of David Bowie have redefined the very essence of rock & roll.”

Keith Richards, Tina Turner, and David Bowie at the Ritz, New York City © Bob Gruen, 1983

Keith Richards, Tina Turner, and David Bowie at the Ritz, New York City © Bob Gruen, 1983

The organizers make no bones this is a commercial venture: All prints are for sale (from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) and the Morrison Hotel Gallery ships internationally. Though the collection omits key Bowie chroniclers such as Steve Schapiro and Rankin, the photographer list is awesome: Duffy, Gerald Fearnley, Lynn Goldsmith, Bob Gruen, Guido Harari, Markus Klinko, Geoff MacCormack, Terry O’Neill, Neal Preston, Mick Rock, Masayoshi Sukita, Barry Schultz, Barrie Wentzell.

David Bowie, © Mick Rock, 1972

David Bowie, © Mick Rock, 1972

David Bowie, © Jake Chessum, 1995

David Bowie, © Jake Chessum, 1995

While all of Bowie’s aforementioned guises are represented in showbiz photos and onstage shots, the artist himself emerges in more intimate, candid pictures which reveal his warmth, party-boy zaniness, and naturally rugged good looks—as in the quiet moment captured by Mick Rock (above left) and the thoughtful portrait by Jake Chessum. Collectively these images show this restless chameleon as a complex, charismatic, and deeply creative soul. Now a starman waiting in the sky.