David Bowie is a pop star. David Bowie is a designer. David Bowie is an actor. David Bowie is a painter.
David Bowie is a lot of things, which is why it’s appropriate that his retrospective at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is titled “David Bowie Is.”
The museum gained unprecedented access to the David Bowie archive to select five decades of mementos like this striped bodysuit designed for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour. There are plenty more of Bowie’s crazy costumes on display, as well as photos, video, handwritten lyrics and original album art. Many of the pieces are by Bowie himself, showing off his range of artistic talents. More than 300 items make up the exhibition and it’s the largest of its kind ever shown in public.
The exhibition traces Bowie’s evolution as an artist and his collaborations on various projects. Video screens show some of his music videos and excerpts from films such as “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”
There is also a series of special events related to the exhibition, including lectures and a chance for kids to design their own album cover.
“David Bowie Is” runs until August 11.
[Image © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive 2012]
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has just opened a new exhibition about the development of trade and official relations between Russia and the United Kingdom.
“Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars” brings together more than 150 objects for a look at the interaction between both courts from the accession of Henry VIII in 1509. He and later Tudor monarchs were eager to expand contacts with Russia to tap into the lucrative fur trade, selling English wool and luxury items in return. The artifacts show how the courts affected one another through the reigns of two English dynasties.
Timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of the dynasty of the Romanovs, the exhibition focuses on gifts and cultural exchanges between the two royal courts instead of the rather humble trade that financed them. Included are Shakespeare’s first folio, a little-seen portrait of Elizabeth I, Henry VIII’s suit of processional armor and royal jewelry.
The exhibition also includes objects loaned from Russian institutions, such as this odd silver basin showing a dolphin from 1635. It’s part of a collection of English and French silver given to the Tsars by the British royal family. Examples of this kind of silver are rare in England because most of it was melted down to finance the English Civil War. What’s interesting about this basin is the way the dolphin is portrayed – more like those seen in Greek and Roman art than what dolphins look like in reality. It appears the silversmith had a Classical education but not much contact with the sea!
%Gallery-180975%There’s also quite a bit about the Muscovy Company, an English firm given a monopoly on trading rights with Russia from 1555 until 1698. The company’s captains made a fortune trading with Russia and even tried to open a route to China by sailing north of Siberia. The so-called Northeast Passage was as bad of an idea as it sounds and many sailors froze to death in the attempt.
The Northeast Passage remained a dream until 1878, when the Finnish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld sailed the Vega from Europe to Japan via Siberia. Sadly for him, the Suez Canal had opened nine years before and there already was a shorter route to China.
“Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars” runs until July 14.
[Photo courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, London]