“David Bowie is”: Celebrating the Sensational Art of a Sensational Artist

By Ruby Paarlberg


The “David Bowie is” Exhibition opened on March 2nd with the purpose of honoring and celebrating Bowie’s artwork. The exhibit, made up of hundreds of objects taken directly from the David Bowie archive, includes posters, handwritten music and costumes. The variety of objects and pieces within the exhibit perfectly encapsulates Bowie’s ever-changing forms of music and self-expression. With lots of daily visitors, the extravagant and well-received exhibit mirrors the uniquely captivating quality of Bowie’s art.

People swarm the Brooklyn Museum each week eagerly awaiting their chance to see this exhibit. The show is extremely popular amongst David Bowie fans in particular, but it has even gained traction amongst those who are not obsessed with the icon. Tickets are sold quickly, and customers endure up to two-hour-long waits to experience the exhibit’s wonders.

The experience begins with the suspenseful wait outside of the exhibit, where customers promptly show their tickets. The 30 or so people that have been selected for that particular time are then funneled into yet another line, where they turn their phones off. Although the line snakes around very slowly, the energy is high as most people cannot contain their excitement. Soon, people enter a dark room where they put on headphones, entering the world of David Bowie.

David Bowie was both an extremely successful and unique British singer and actor. Over time, Bowie’s music evolved dramatically. His characters transformed as he played Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust. He also acted in television and film in movies such as Labyrinth and Basquiat.   

Entering the exhibit feels magical, as each person is immediately serenaded by David Bowie’s delightful music. Although it feels loud, the room is actually completely silent except for the sound of shuffling feet. The first few moments are overwhelming as people gather around the first few pieces of art. However, deeper into the exhibits, the crowds thin out. Every time a person moves to a different part of the exhibit the headphones automatically change to a new song or a voice recording that matches a TV screen. One room in the back of the exhibit has a huge theater-sized screen that plays a song from one of David Bowie’s many concerts. Some passers-by are inspired to dance.

David Bowie’s outfits are scattered around each room in the exhibit. His outfits are sparkly, colorful, unique, and easy to admire. People often spend minutes just staring at one incredible costume made entirely out of glitter, or shaped so strangely that it is impossible to imagine it on a person’s body.

There is also an educational aspect to the exhibit. Museum-goers periodically read informative paragraphs and photograph captions about Bowie’s life and the artifacts on display. As a result, many feel personally connected to Bowie’s art and life upon leaving. The exhibit truly commemorates a unique artist who made an unforgettable mark on this world.

You can go out and see the “David Bowie is” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, Wednesday through Friday, until July 15th, 2018.