He went on to espouse his admiration for Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, and Francis Picabia, and his appreciation of Marcel Duchamp's sense of humor—although Bowie allowed that "there's the other side of me that thinks he did it just because he couldn't paint."
This love of art manifested itself in the music: As early as 1969, Bowie referenced Georges Braque in the lyrics of "Unwashed and Slightly Dazed." "Joe the Lion," released in 1977, pays tribute to a Chris Burden performance art piece with the line "nail me to my car and I'll tell you who you are." In 1974, Bowie based the set design for his Diamond Dogs tour in part on the work of satirical German artist George Grosz.
"Yes, I do have a (too frequently remarked upon) Tintoretto and a small Rubens… but the majority of what I have are British 20th century and not terribly big names," Bowie insisted. "I've gone for what seemed to be an important or interesting departure at a certain time, or something that typified a certain decade, rather than go for Hockneys orFreuds or whatever."
One unifying thread among Bowie's best-loved artists is a willingness to take risks. "From a very early age I was always fascinated by those who transgressed the norm, who defied convention, whether in painting or in music or anything," Bowie told Life magazine in 1992. "Those were my heroes," he added, listing Duchamp and Salvador Dalí along with Little Richard and John Lennon.
In addition to his proclivities as a collector, Bowie was a painter himself (he even attended art school), as well as a writer for Modern Painters. His life and career was the subject of the wildly-popular exhibition "Davie Bowie is," which debuted at London's Victoria & Albert Museum in 2013 before traveling to Berlin, Chicago, and Paris, among other cities.
As Camille Paglia wrote of Bowie in the "Theater of Gender," her essay for the V&A exhibition catalogue, David Bowie Is…, "Music was not the only or even the primary mode through which he first conveyed his vision to the world: he was an iconoclast who was also an image-maker."
Here are some of the artworks reportedly owned by the visionary artist:
Bowie lent no less than three canvases to abstract expressionist Peter Lanyon's 2010 retrospective at Tate St. Ives. 21 Publishing, Bowie's art publishing press, had previously released Peter Lanyon: At the Edge of Landscape in 2000.
"My idea of a contemporary artist is Damien Hirst," Bowie once said.
Bowie bought one of Hirst's solo efforts, Beautiful, shattering, slashing, violent, pinky, hacking, sphincter painting.
In 1994, Bowie snapped up Scottish artist Peter Howson's Croatian and Muslim after London's Imperial War Museum, which commissioned the work, opted not to buy it due to its brutal subject matter (two men raping a Muslim woman and forcing her head in the toilet).
"Howson's Croatian and Muslim shows what is actually happening and being done in Bosnia," Imperial War Museum curator Angela Weight, who voted in favor of the painting but was overruled, told the Chicago Tribune. "Museums have to take bold decisions and should not go for conservatism."
Howson, the UK's official war artist at the time, created about 200 paintings and drawings during a trip to war-torn Bosnia that left him shell-shocked. Bowie purchased the painting, which was shown at the museum in an exhibition of Howson's works documenting the crisis, for £18,000 ($27,000). The singer described it as "the most evocative and devastating painting," the New York Times reported.
Bowie has lent out this sun-splashed landscape painting at least twice in the past decade. The oil painting was among 35 works by the artist that appeared at London'sHazlitt Holland-Hibbert gallery in 2011, and previously crossed the Atlantic in 2006 for the artist's first American show in 80 years, held at New York's Paul Kasmin gallery.
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