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Retrospective Reframing David Bowie as an Artist Working in Performance to Premiere this June

Bowie’s Genre-Bending Work will be Presented in Multiplatform Retrospective

New York, NY (April 13, 2011)

David Bowie, Artist, a public program, will celebrate this singular talent who has continued to be a constant innovator in performance-based practices. Expanding past his notoriety as a musician, David Bowie, Artist showcases the too-often-overlooked diversity and multifaceted nature of Bowie’s total artistic output. Presented in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, this multi-platform retrospective—including a film series as well as kiosks showing music videos, interviews, concert footage and other audio-visual documentation—will run from May 9 to July 15, 2011. The cinema series begins on June 3 and will conclude with the screening of a new 35mm print of “The Man Who Fell to Earth at Film” Forum from June 24 – July 7, 2011.

David Bowie has been a major figure and force in music, film, fashion, art, and a multitude of creative disciplines over the last five decades. With an innate ability to shift and shape his persona, style, and creative direction, Bowie has crafted a powerful fusion of music, culture, and other performance practices—one that has become the blueprint for contemporary artists working in performance.

With training in mime from Lindsay Kemp, and roots in avant-garde theater, cabaret, and musical-based performance, Bowie merged these diverse disciplines into his highly influential character project: an otherworldly creature with bright red hair, a sparkly suit and platform shoes named Ziggy Stardust. Raising stagecraft to new heights in the 1970s with his rock spectacle cum tour, which synthesized theater, video, art, and music, Bowie pushed the boundaries of performance.

During his meteoric rise to superstardom, Bowie continued to work on and off the screen, taking memorable roles in film and theatre. He impressed critics and audiences with his turn on Broadway in “The Elephant Man,” and his many onscreen roles most notably as a humanoid alien in “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” a goblin king in “The Labyrinth,” a British officer in “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” and as Andy Warhol in “Basquiat.”

In addition to working as a film actor, a fine artist, and collaborating on music videos, Bowie has also been an Internet pioneer. For these endeavors, in 2007, he received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.


David Bowie, Artist is a retrospective presented by The Museum of Arts and Design. Film screenings will be held in the Theater at MAD, at 2 Columbus Circle, except for a special two-week run of a new 35mm print of “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” which will screen at Film Forum, at 209 West Houston Street.

 David Bowie, Artist is programmed by Jake Yuzna, Manager of Public Programs.


Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
June 3, 7:00 pm
Dir. D.A. Pennebaker
90 min, 35mm
With David Bowie, Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

Shot in legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker’s trademark vérité style, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars captures the band on the night of July 3, 1973, on what was purported to be the final appearance of Bowie’s legendary glam rock alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Widely considered to be one of the greatest concert documentaries of the 70s, the film captures Ziggy and the Spiders from Mars at their most electrifying. Featuring performances of Bowie’s hits like “Suffragette City,” “Oh! You Pretty Things,” and of course, “Ziggy Stardust.”

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
June 8, 7:00 pm
Dir. Nagisa Ôshima
118 min, 35mm
With David Bowie, Tom Conti and Ryûichi Sakamoto
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

 David Bowie stars as Celliers, a high-ranking British officer interned in a Japanese POW camp, in this captivating World War II drama. His arrival at the camp, and a commander’s obsession with the blonde officer, throws off the delicate balance between the prisoners and guards, bringing each side’s culture and concept of honor into question. A brutal, emotional, and multilayered look at the consequences of war, the film is a considered to be a highlight in Ôshima’s oeuvre, which includes as Night and Fog in Japan, Death by Hanging, and In the Realm of the Senses. 

The Hunger (1983)
June 10, 7:00 pm
Dir. Tony Scott
97 min, 35mm
With Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

Catherine Deneuve plays a centuries-old vampire named Miriam who preys on urban clubgoers with her vampire lover John, played by none other than David Bowie. The Hunger is a neo-Gothic exercise in style and atmosphere that sparked a cult following. The film, Tony Scott’s feature debut before continuing on to such successes as Top Gun and True Romance, “reeks with chic, but never for one minute takes itself too seriously, nor does it ever slop over into camp” (The New York Times).

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
June 16, 7:00 pm
Dir. Martin Scorsese
163 min, 35mm
With Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, and David Bowie
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

Starring Willem Dafoe and David Bowie as Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate respectively, the film depicts the life of Christ who was subject to every form of temptation that humans face, including fear, doubt, and lust. Still regarded as a controversial film, the film expertly questions the divinity of Jesus. Many critics felt the film showcased Scorsese at the height of his power and artistry. Peter Gabriel composed the film's Grammy award-winning soundtrack.

Labyrinth (1986)
June 17, 7:00 pm}
Dir. Jim Henson
101 min, 35mm
With David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

The final film directed by legendary puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson, Labyrinth has come to be regarded as one of a beloved children’s film. Produced by George Lucas, Labyrinth follows Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly) as she ventures into the Goblin Kingdom to rescue her little brother, Toby, from Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie).

In this journey, Sarah encounters a multitude of bizarre and colorful creatures. The film also features music by Bowie.

The Linguini Incident (1991)
June 23, 7:00 pm
Dir. Richard Shepard
98 min, Digital Projection
With Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie and Eszter Balint
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

Never released on DVD, this lost gem of Bowie’s acting career teams him with Rosanna Arquette in one of the most original romantic comedies from the American indie film movement of the 1990s. Arquette is Lucy, a frustrated escape artist, who is obsessed with becoming a modern-day female version of Harry Houdini. To pay the rent, she works as a waitress at a trendy Manhattan restaurant. With her love interest, the bartender Monte, played by David Bowie, the two conceive a daring plot to rob the restaurant.

Basquiat (1996)
June 24, 7:00 pm
Dir. Julian Schnabel
108 min, 35mm
With Jeffrey Wright, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, and David Bowie
$7 MAD Members and Students with Valid ID, $10 General

Julian Schnabel’s first feature film looks at the meteoric rise to fame of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the enfant terrible of the 1980s New York art scene. David Bowie, in a scene- stealing performance, plays Andy Warhol. The film's array of art world players and hangers on are played by an incredible cast, including Dennis Hopper, Willem Dafoe, Benicio Del Toro, Tatum O'Neal, Gary Oldman, Parker Posey, and Courtney Love.

The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
June 24 – July 7
Dir. Nicolas Roeg
138 min, 35mm
With David Bowie, Rip Torn and Candy Clark Screening at Film Forum

In this sci-fi drama David Bowie stars in his most iconic role as Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet, which is suffering from severed drought. As he starts a high technology company to fund the construction of his return spacecraft, he meets Mary-Lou, and a deep romance grows. Bowie’s performance and the film’s surreal imagery turned this film into cult classic; it also helped establish British director Nicolas Roeg as one of the most imaginative filmmakers of his generation.

David Bowie, Artist is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, opening on June 7.

The Museum of Arts and Design explores what Chief Curator David R. McFadden calls “the blur zone between art, design, and craft today.” It focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to the digital. The Museum’s exhibition program examines and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights invention and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by gifted and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day. Central to the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families, and adults. Its Open Studios enable visitors to engage artists at work and further enhance exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances, and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft, and design are held in the building’s historic 144-seat auditorium.

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