A print of a rarely seen original colour transparency image from Brian Duffy’s photo session for David Bowie’s world-famous 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’, has been gifted to the V&A by the Duffy Archive. The gift celebrates the V&A’s best-selling David Bowie is exhibition welcoming 2 million visitors during the final stop on its global tour, at the Brooklyn Museum in New York closing 15 July 2018.
Since 2013, David Bowie is has travelled to eleven venues in ten countries, becoming the most- visited international touring show in the V&A’s 165-year history. The record visitor figure and gift were announced by museum’s Chairman Nicholas Coleridge CBE during the V&A’s annual Summer Party, organised in partnership with Harrods.
Brian Duffy is widely considered to be one of the UK’s most creative photographers. His cutting-photographs from the 1960s-70s provide a fascinating record one of the most creative eras in British history. Duffy is credited with conceiving the persona ‘Aladdin Sane’ after interpreting Bowie's original title of 'A Lad Insane' album 1973. Duffy’s creative partnership with Bowie continued for a number of years, with Duffy subsequently producing imagery for the albums ‘Lodger’ (1979) and ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ (1980).
The V&A worked with the Duffy Archive in 2013 to select a previously unpublished David Bowie 'Eyes Open' image from the Aladdin Sane contact sheet as the lead image for the exhibition.
Chris Duffy, Director of the Duffy Archive, said ‘The Aladdin Sane image, featuring David Bowie painted with a lighting ‘flash’ is one of the best known and most copied images of the late 20th century. Today, it is instantly recognised around the world. My father greatly enjoyed his unique creative partnership with David. I think he would be delighted that his work is joining the V&A’s collection, and that it has contributed to the continued public interest in one of the UK’s great creative forces.’
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: ‘Aladdin Sane is one of the most iconic images in pop history. This gift to the V&A celebrates David Bowie’s seismic cultural importance and the huge contribution Brian Duffy made to 20th century
photography. We want to promote the best of British culture to the world. The unparalleled success of ‘David Bowie is’ highlights the strength of V&A's collection and the enormous benefits of international collaboration.’
David Bowie is, is the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie – one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times. Over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork and rare performance material from the past five decades were brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the very first time. It demonstrated how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theatre and contemporary culture and focussed on his creative processes, shifting style and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre and film.
Around 312,000 visitors saw David Bowie is at the V&A in London, where the museum opened late to cope with demand to view the sell-out show. The exhibition was also the subject of a feature film, David Bowie is happening now.
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