David Bowie, the art museum exhibition, is due to open March 23 for a four-month run at London's venerable Victoria and Albert Museum.
For art-world purists who decry the trend toward celebrity-driven programming -- something not unheard of at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the
Titled “David Bowie is,” the upcoming display of more than 300 objects -- sponsored by
Given “unprecedented access to the David Bowie archive,” two curators from the V&A’s Theatre and Performance department have picked a show that includes costumes Bowie wore as “Ziggy Stardust,” the 1972 album and persona that vaulted him to super-stardom, as well as original album artwork, video clips, set designs, handwritten lyrics and some sketches by Bowie. In other words, it's a rocker-as-auteur approximation of LACMA’s current retrospective on film director
The British daily, the Guardian, ran a recent interview with Roy Strong, a former director of both the Victoria and Albert and the National Portrait Gallery, who said that the dominant role of public funding of museums in
Asked about the forthcoming Bowie retrospective, Strong said: "Well, we already had Grace Kelly [the subject of a 2010 show at the V&A]. What she was doing there I don't know. They've done a number of things like that. They've done that with one notion in mind -- box-office."
Strong appeared resigned, however, to some influx of pop culture: "You have to look at it on its own merits. It's just a balance, that you don't do too much of it."
Purists in Great
With a $24.37 special exhibition price, at current exchange rates, advance tickets for 10 of the first 12 weekend dates for "David Bowie is" were already sold out as of Monday, according to the museum's website. (Admission to the V&A's permanent collection is free.)
A published four-year strategic plan through 2015 says a top priority is "to make the V&A matter to more people," and build its attendance -- 2.9 million in 2011-12 -- by 2% annually. Meanwhile, Great Britain's economic doldrums have brought an across-the-board tightening of government arts funding. The V&A's subsidy is projected to drop gradually from about $62 million in 2011 to $60 million in 2015.