The new David Bowie Is exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art deserves its hype. It’s a comprehensive, expansive look at the career of a man who was a singer/songwriter, musician–and far more. David Bowie is a painter, actor, writer, designer, composer–and most important, a man who knows how to develop and maintain a brand.
Among the fascinating displays of Bowie’s art, designs, music and costumes is a large video display of his 1972 appearance on the BBC performing “Starman” wearing makeup and a colorful quilted fitted suit. His fans loved it and others were outraged–by his appearance as well as by what was seen as inappropriate behavior with his guitarist Mick Ronson. Here’s the same video. Don’t get excited. It’s not R rated, by any means. Great song, though.
Bowie hasn’t played a full concert since 2004 when he underwent emergency angioplasty after a concert in Germany. He often performed in Chicago during his touring years. One outstanding series of Bowie Chicago performances was the full month of August 1980 when he played the lead in the play, The Elephant Man, at the Blackstone Theatre. You can see a scene from that play in one exhibit area at the MCA.
Patrick Sisson’s article in the Reader tells about that month that Bowie called Chicago home…and describes some of the places he visited and people he spent time with while he was here.
Finally, here’s a video about the Bowie exhibit that’s a good visual intro. It’s an exhibit you should not miss.