David Bowie Archive Gifted To The V&A – Raphael Flaget Madonna Could Be The Real Deal – Tim Whiten Awarded 2022 Gershon Iskowitz Prize
A major gift and donation has been accepted to help the V&A (Victoria And Albert Museum) secure David Bowie’s archive for the nation: Over 80,000 items spanning six decades of the cultural icon’s career to be made available to the public for the first time.
David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time – TH V&A Director
The archive traces Bowie’s creative processes as a musical innovator, cultural icon, and advocate for self-expression and reinvention from his early career in the 1960s to his death in 2016. Alongside creating the new Centre, the gift will support the archive’s ongoing conservation, research, and study.
“David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time – Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A. The V&A is thrilled to become custodians of his incredible archive and to be able to open it up to the public. Bowie’s radical innovations across music, theatre, film, fashion, and style – from Berlin to Tokyo to London – continue to influence the design and visual culture and inspire creatives from Janelle Monáe to Lady Gaga to Tilda Swinton and Raf Simons. Our new collections centre, V&A East Storehouse, is the ideal place to put Bowie’s work in dialogue with the V&A’s collection spanning 5,000 years of art, design, and performance. My deepest thanks go to the David Bowie Estate, Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group for helping make this a reality and providing a new sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow.”
Spanning Bowie’s career, the archive features handwritten lyrics, letters, sheet music, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s instruments, album artwork and awards. It also includes more intimate writings, thought processes and unrealised projects, most of which have never been seen in public.
Highlights include stage costumes such as Bowie’s breakthrough Ziggy Stardust ensembles designed by Freddie Burretti (1972), Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973) and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997). The archive also includes handwritten lyrics for songs including Fame (1975), “Heroes” (1977) and Ashes to Ashes (1980), as well as examples of the “cut up” The acquisition and creation of The Centre have been made possible thanks to the David Bowie Estate and a generous donation of £10m from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group. The method of writing was introduced to Bowie by the writer William Burroughs. Additionally, the archive holds a series of intimate notebooks from every era of Bowie’s life and career.
The archive also includes a photo collage of film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975- 76), directed by Nicolas Roeg and featuring Bowie, and over 70,000 photographs, prints, negatives, large format transparencies, slides and contact sheets taken by some of the 20th century’s leading photographers from Terry O’Neill to Brian Duffy and Helmut Newton. Among other highlights are instruments, amps, and other equipment, including Brian Eno’s EMS Synthesizer from Bowie’s seminal Low (1977) and “Heroes” albums and a Stylophone – a gift from Marc Bolan in the late 1960s, used on Bowie’s seminal Space Oddity recording.
Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, said: “We are very proud to support the V&A and allow for the creation of this irreplaceable archive to preserve and showcase David Bowie’s iconic career. His influence on music and popular culture worldwide cannot be overstated.”
A David Bowie Estate spokesperson said: “With David’s life’s work becoming part of the UK’s national collections, he takes his rightful place amongst many other cultural icons and artistic geniuses. The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts – and the behind-the-scenes access that V&A East Storehouse offers– will mean David’s work can be shared with the public in ways that haven’t been possible. We’re so pleased to work closely with the V&A to continue commemorating David’s enduring cultural influence.” Nile Rodgers said: “I believe everyone will agree with me when I say that when I look back at the last 60 years of post-Beatles music that if only one artist could be in the V&A, it should be David Bowie. He didn’t just make art; he was art!”
The V&A will now be able to offer access to David Bowie’s history – and the portal it represents – not only to practising artists from all fields but to every last one of us for the foreseeable future. This is excellent news, which deserves the sincerest gratitude and congratulations to all those involved who have made it possible.” V&A East Storehouse will be a new type of museum experience designed within and around the V&A’s stored collections. Taking visitors behind the scenes will enable unprecedented access to the nation’s collections in a new purpose-built home for over 250,000 objects, 350,000 books and 1,000 archives. V&A East Storehouse brings conservation labs, working stores, research and reading rooms with galleries, display and performance spaces and creative studios – brought together through an extensive public network centred around the Collections Hall to create a unique experience for visitors. At The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts at V&A East Storehouse, from 2025, fans will get up close and gain new insights into Bowie’s creative process like never before.
The David Bowie Archive joins the V&A’s Theatre & Performance collections, which include the archives of influential individuals and organisations, from Vivien Leigh to Peter Brook, Akram Khan Dance Company, The Royal Court Theatre and Glastonbury Festival. The acquisition follows the V&A’s ground-breaking 2013 exhibition, David Bowie Is…, which marked the first time a museum had been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive. The exhibition was seen by over two million people around the world as part of its international tour, becoming one of the V&A’s most popular exhibitions of all time.
Raphael Flaget Madonna Could Be The Real Deal
A painted panel of the Madonna and Child, purchased from an English Antiques shop some 30 years ago, could emerge as one of the world’s most valuable paintings. It’s not often that a new Raphael is discovered. Only 200 works attributed to the artist and his studio exist. Still, when cabinetmaker Anthony Ayers saw the panel shoved behind a dusty wardrobe, he felt a tingling sensation.
Now described as the Flaget Madonna, this 16th-century panel depicts a serene-looking Mary holding the infant Jesus. Other figures in the artwork represent Elizabeth and John the Baptist.
After spending $500,000 on research analysing the paints, wooden panel and hiring Art Recognition, an AI system for art authentication, the painting is closer to a final attribution.
“Through brushstroke artificial intelligence, AR offers objectivity and accessibility to clients,” said Carina Popovici, founder and CEO of Art Recognition. “Art history, provenance, chemical analysis, and other methods are all critical to the full understanding of an artwork, but attribution decisions should not be left solely to the subjective human expert’s eye.”
The provenance of the painting, now held in a vault outside of Chicago, includes proof that it was donated in 1837 by a French-born Bishop, Joseph Flaget. Before being given by Flaget, it was thought to be part of the Vatican collections. Could this be the next Salvator Mundi? I hope not!
Tim Whiten Awarded 2022 Gershon Iskowitz Prize
The Art Gallery of Ontario along with The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation has announced Tim Whiten as the recipient of the 2022 Gershon Iskowitz Prize At The AGO. The award, which includes a $75,000 cash award and a solo exhibition at the AGO is presented annually to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to visual arts in Canada.
For more than fifty years, Tim Whiten has been creating personal and evocative works that unite the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and material realms. He has pursued a creative practice – one that includes gestural drawings, sculptures, performances, and installations – rooted in a deep understanding of spiritual cultural practices from around the world. Whiten deploys this knowledge in his work, creating intimate experiences that allow for the experience and contemplation of forces beyond our conscious comprehension. His profound spiritual investigations evade easy categorization and manifest in ways that are both spellbinding, and impeccably produced.
Rather than an artist, Whiten considers himself an “image maker who also creates cultural objects. The process is what guides the work.” His choice of materials comes from everyday experiences and many of his objects are either tools or toys. These objects are meant to take the viewer to another place or another time.
Max Dean, a member of the 2022 Prize jury, spoke to both Whiten’s long-term commitment and outstanding involvement. “One is at first taken in by the material, but the content of the work transcends.”
Jurors for the 2022 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO were: artist and recipient of the 2005 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, Max Dean; Michelle Jacques, Head of Collections/Exhibitions & Chief Curator, Remai Modern; Catherine Crowston, Director of the Art Gallery of Alberta (Iskowitz Foundation Director); Gerald McMaster, artist and Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge at OCADU (Iskowitz Foundation Director); and Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario (Iskowitz Foundation Director).
Tim Whiten is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto. More details about Tim Whiten’s exhibition at the AGO in 2025 will be announced as they become available.
Born in Michigan in 1941, after completing military service, Whiten moved to Toronto in 1968 to teach at York University, becoming a founding member of the institution’s Department of Visual Arts, and inspired generations of artists through his long teaching career. In 2007, with thirty-nine years of teaching at York University, long after having achieved the rank of Full Professor, he retired from full-time teaching and currently holds the status of Professor Emeritus.
Selected solo exhibitions include the Art Gallery of Hamilton (2010), the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo (2006), Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, Montreal (1998), and the Koffler Gallery. In 2021, Tim Whiten: Tools of conveyance at the Colorado University Art Museum in Boulder, Colorado, was organized around themes and processes that emerged in Whiten’s work from the late 1960s to the present. In 2022, Whiten’s work was featured in four exhibitions, staged as part of a multi-venue collaborative project titled Elemental: Ethereal, at the McMaster Museum of Art, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the Art Gallery of Peterborough, and the Art Gallery at York University.
Whiten’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions the Art Gallery of Ontario; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Windsor; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston; The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa; Art Museum, University of Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; The Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
Whiten’s work has been collected in depth by private collections and public institutions including the Art Gallery of Hamilton the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound, and the Art Museum, University of Toronto, as well as the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Windsor, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, as well as by the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco.