He’s the best selling show. He’s the Starman. He’s Ziggy Stardust. And an exhibit showing 80,000 items that make up the life of David Bowie through his many guises is arriving at the V&A in 2025.
London’s Victoria & Albert museum has been gifted the items, and they will open up at the East Storehouse in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with pieces that span a six decade legacy of work, all the way up until the release of Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, and his death in January 2016.
What can you expect to see at the David Bowie archive?
It’s rare to find an archive that should have such an appeal to the widest ranges of Bowie fan.
Fashion gurus, you’ll get to gaze at that Union Jack coat designed for the Earthling album cover by David Bowie and Alexander McQueen, as well as Kansai Yamamoto’s extravagant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour.
Film buffs, there’s photo collages from Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth, starring Bowie in the title-role, as well as a treasure trove of stills from his footsteps into the world of cinema.
Bookworms, there’s even examples of the “cut up” method of writing that was introduced to David Bowie by William Burroughs.
And music nerds, well that should all speak for itself, but there’s handwritten lyrics to tracks such as Ashes To Ashes and Heroes.
Those who visit the exhibition will gain a unique insight into the creative process of a genuine one-off artist, who sprinkled his eternal influence over the mediums of fashion, film, photography and, of course, music.
As this is David Bowie we’re talking about, this is a bound to be a visual experience that gives and gives. Musically speaking, he’s most renowned for his words and voice – and believe me, those handwritten lyrics alone will gather the crowds – but are you going to turn down the chance to also see his collection of instruments? Highly doubt it.
There’s even unreleased, never-seen-before projects at the exhibition as well as intimate writings that define the artistic stamp David Bowie left on the world.
In the words of Nile Rodgers: Nile Rodgers, said: “I believe everyone will agree with me when I say that when I look back at the last 60 years of post-Beatles music that if only one artist could be in the V&A it should be David Bowie. He didn’t just make art, he was art!”
So naturally, prints and photos of the man himself will make up a hefty chunk of this exhibition, allowing us to dart our eyes between his famous looks from cinema, from music videos, from live performances, be it the Ziggy Stardust or Berlin era, and from much more.
Tilda Swinton, who was friends with David Bowie and collaborated with him, said: “In 2013, the V&A’s David Bowie Is… exhibition gave us unquestionable evidence that Bowie is a spectacular example of an
artist, who not only made unique and phenomenal work, but who has an influence and inspiration far beyond that work itself.
“Ten years later, the continuing regenerative nature of his spirit grows ever further in popular resonance and cultural reach down through younger generations.
“In acquiring his archive for posterity, the V&A will now be able to offer access to David Bowie’s history – and the portal it represents – not only to practicing artists from all fields, but to every last one of us, and for the foreseeable future.”
The archive will become available to the public in 2025 at the V&A Storehouse in Stratford, and has been made possible by the David Bowie estate and a donation of £10 million by the Blavatnik family and Warner Music.
Already twiddling your thumbs with impatience? Go and blast Rebel Rebel on your speakers; it’ll come soon enough — they might have even found life on mars by the day it comes to town.