David Bowie Expressionist Portrait Goes Under The Hammer In Scotland

An important portrait by the late Artist/Musician David Bowie is to go under the hammer at Lyon & Turnbull Auctioneers in Edinburgh. The painting described as acrylic and computer collage on canvas was conceived in 1997 and given to a charity auction for the ARTAID 98 exhibition. It carries an estimate of  £ 3,000-5,000. 

The artwork, titled ‘DHEAD’, sums up Bowie’s skill as a painter and his passion for collecting, a little known fact amongst the general public. He, like so many of the influential bands that formed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was a product of an art school education. As well as practising art, he also read widely on the subject, even becoming well-regarded as a critic in the 1990s. His own personal collection features many Modern British artists including Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield and Peter Lanyon, as well as Damien Hirst and Scottish artist Peter Howson. He was particularly drawn to figuration in all of its 20th century guises, and his own art is largely formed of abstracted head studies. His style references some of the bizarreness and esotericism of 1930s era German Expressionist art, unsurprising given the dark and atmospheric impact that the city of Berlin had on his musical output. 

Though painting and art was a huge part of Bowie’s life, his work is extremely scarce to market, and Lyon & Turnbull are excited to offer this self-portrait by the artistic legend, its title ‘DHEAD’ being eerily prescient given the timing of its arrival at auction. The art work was philanthropically donated by Bowie to a large fund-raising exhibition called ‘ARTAID ’98’, held at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh in that year. Here his work was hung alongside artists including Craigie Aitchison, Howard Hodgkin, Gilbert and George and Ken Currie. Bowie, perhaps aware that his legacy as a musical genius was likely to forever overshadow his output as a visual artist (or for that matter, as an actor), he seldom exhibited his artwork and his last solo show was in the 1990s. Examples of his Berlin-era portraiture were featured in the 2013 blockbuster exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where they received critical acclaim in their own right. 

Charlotte Riordan, picture specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said: “Best known of course as a singer/songwriter, Bowie’s entire career was spent actively blurring the lines between the art forms of music, performance and design; the visual playing as big a part as the aural.”



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