David Bowie has already broken records for the V&A and the major retrospective of his career has not even opened yet. Whether the man himself will attend remains a mystery, and today the curators begged the media to help entice the Thin White Duke to the exhibition about him.
Geoffrey Marsh, who curated the blockbuster show alongside Victoria Broakes, said: “We’re all hoping that David will appear at some point. It’s part of his mystery.”
He called on the media to say it was time he turned up. “It may help. And if he does turn up, we’ll be very grateful.”
Martin Roth, director of the V&A, added the question over whether he would appear was the most frequent. “I would say David Bowie is not here yet. I’m sure he will come one of those days. Maybe,” he added in a reference to the name of Bowie’s new album, “the next day”.
Bowie fans have pre-booked almost 50,000 tickets, more than double the previous record for an exhibition at the museum in South Kensington. It is the first exhibition to draw from Bowie’s archive, which has 75,000 objects.
Dubbed David Bowie is, the show includes 300 objects brought together for the first time from handwritten lyrics, to original costumes, instruments, and photography and films. It also looks at the works that influenced him, and where his influence can be seen
The show, which has the artist’s blessing but not involvement, includes the Ziggy Stardust bodysuits to the Alexander McQueen Union Jack jacket for the cover of Earthling.
Victoria Broakes, curator “We wanted it to be unlike any exhibition we had been to before and we wanted to bring something of Bowie’s ground-breaking nature into the design.”
It has taken two and a half years to put together and was changed after the surprise announcement of his new album The Next Day, currently top of the charts in 40 countries.
“We didn’t know about the album. We knew something big was going to happen this year, but didn’t know what it was,” she said.
“It meant changing panels and we had the chance to introduce new things. We have two new videos and the Tony Oursler puppets.”
The puppets, created for his 50 birthday, caused palpitations when they failed to arrive in December. “We didn’t know why they hadn’t come. We panicked a little bit; then saw they were in a new video,” Ms Broakes said.
The curators used Bowie’s own shows to inspire the layout, with help from theatre designers. “We seek to shed light on his inspiration, how he works and how he continues to inspire musicians, designers and creative people of all kinds.”