David Bowie has been best-known throughout his five-decade career as a prolific musician and songwriter, with hits like “Changes” and “Space Oddity” in constant radio circulation. But he is also an actor and artist who helped design his own album covers, stage sets and costumes.
Now, 400 objects, from the multi-colored jumpsuit he wore as “Ziggy Stardust” to a cocaine spoon, are going on display in Chicago at the exhibit “David Bowie Is,” running from Sept. 23 to Jan. 4, 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Tens of thousands of tickets already have been sold for the MCA show, the only U.S. venue for an exhibit that has drawn huge crowds in London, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Berlin.
“This exhibition repatriates David Bowie, the musical innovator, into the territory of cutting-edge visual and performing art that is his natural home,” said Michael Darling, MCA chief curator.
The multimedia exhibit was originally organized for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum by curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. Visitors wear headphones that play clips of Bowie interviews and music, which change depending on which object is being looked at.
Speaking to reporters in Chicago on Friday, Marsh said the show reveals Bowie’s “degree of obsession” with the creation of culture.
“That’s really what we really wanted to bring out – is the nature of creativity,” Marsh said. He said people leaving the exhibit say they feel inspired to create something of their own.
“One of the things David always says is ‘Don’t copy me, don’t look at me. Look inside yourself,'” Marsh said.
One fan who plans a trip to Chicago for the show is Darrell Miller, 49, of Denver, who said he views Bowie as “like a living god, and I mean this with all sincerity. He’s outerworldly.”
Scott Furtwengler, 50, a Houston musician, who also plans to see the Chicago show, said he is inspired by the diversity of Bowie’s style.
“To see all his work in one place, the costumes, the lyrics, the set designs, his notebooks – that’s pretty amazing,” said Furtwengler.
Bowie himself hasn’t attended the show. This doesn’t surprise Marsh – the show is called “David Bowie Is” because Bowie is always evolving, and doesn’t want to get stuck in the past.
“I’m sure he’s working now on what interests him, which is hopefully something we’ll see in the future,” Marsh said.