David Bowie the painter

The art of David Bowie is often over looked.  I remember going into a tiny gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, probably some 20+ years ago and chatting to the owner who brought out a Bowie painting from the back of the shop.  It was wonderful and I wish I could have bought it.  It had a red background…

It was either this…

om pom david bowie d_head_xiii

Above: D HEAD xiii

Or this…

om pom david bowie d head

Above: D HEAD xliii

It’s too long ago for me to remember clearly, but it was my first realisation that Bowie painted and it’s what provoked my interest in his art that has always stayed with me.

He did a series of D HEAD paintings.  Here are a few, beginning with the first…


om pom david bowie D Head I, 1995

Above: D HEAD i


om pom david bowie D HEAD 111 24cms x 19 acrylic and computer collage on canvas 95 96

Above: D HEAD iii


om pom david bowie D HEAD XVI 25cm x 20.5cm Acrylic and Computer Collage on Canvas 1995

Above: D HEAD iv


om pom david-bowie-d-head-viii

Above: D HEAD viii 


om pom david-bowie-d-head-ix

Above: D HEAD ix


om pom david-bowie-d-head-xv

Above: D HEAD xv


om pom david bowie D HEAD XVI 25cm x 20.5cm. Acrylic and Computer Collage on Canvas 1995

Above: D HEAD xvi


om pom david bowie d_head_xxvii

Above: D HEAD xxvii


om pom david-bowie-d-head-xxxv

Above: D HEAD xxxv


om pom david bowie 1995, David Bowie S, Bowie S Artwork, Weird, Head Xxxix

Above: D HEAD xxxix


Some of Bowie’s earliest art was his promotional work and costume design for his first band, THE KONRADS…


om pom david-bowie-the-konrads---costume-design


om pom david-bowie-sketches-and-designs-for-the-promotion-of-the-konrads


om pom david bowie the konrads


And below: MY MATE DEN is Bowie’s pencil drawing of Dennis T-Cup Taylor who was the lead guitarist with DAVIE JONES AND THE LOWER THIRD in 1965


om pom david bowie dennis T Cup Taylor lead guitarist with Davie Jones and the Lower Third 1965


And this is his self portrait for HEROES…


om pom david-bowie-self-portrait-(heroes) screen print ink and pencil


In 1976 Bowie moved to the then walled-in city of West Berlin where he shared an apartment with Iggy Pop at number 155 Hauptstrasse.  He painted Iggy’s portrait many times…


om pom david bowie Berlin landscape with J.O. (1978)



J.O is James Osterberg, the real name of Iggy Pop.


om pom david bowie portrait of j o



om pom david bowie David Bowie with his painting titled Head of J. O.1976



The painting below is of the foot of the stairs of the ground floor of Iggy’s and Bowie’s Berlin apartment.  It’s called CHILD IN BERLIN…


om pom david Bowie Child in Berlin


On the third floor of their apartment block was a dentist’s surgery.  The painting is of a boy standing on the ground floor looking up towards the third.  He is about to have a tooth pulled.

Berliners adored Bowie.  “He’s one of us,” said Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller on the news of his death.

om pom david bowie mourners in Berlin


Bowie loved Berlin back, but he also loved Cornwall and 15 years on, in 1993, he painted LITTLE STRANGER, METAL HEARTH AND THE BLACK COAT below.  It’s a painting of his wife Imam in a black coat looking into the kiln at the Bernard Leach pottery in St Ives.  The ‘little stranger’ refers to a small Haniwa Japanese pottery figure recessed into the wall…


om pom david bowie Hearth and the black coat (1993)


He also had a love affair with Africa and in ’95 he painted DRY HEADS CAPETOWN below


om pom david bowie Dry Heads - Capetown (1995)


This was also painted in ’95.  I just love it…


om pom david bowie Present future accepted (1995)



The following year, in ’96, he painted EVOL FOR THE MISSING below.  It’s another of my favourites…


om pom david bowie Evol for the Missing (1996)


Also in ’96 he painted THE RAPE OF BIGARSCHOL below


om pom david bowie The rape of Bigarschol (1996)


This is another favourite piece…


om pom david bowie Squeeze 2000 (1996)


It’s called SQUEEZE which Bowie painted in ’96.  I just love his words ‘I LAUGH AT GREAT WEALTH’.  Bowie was such a generous guy, doing so much for charity, including three collaborations with South African artist Beezy Bailey.  The painting below is two polaroid pictures overpainted.  It’s called FROM NAHODKA WESTWARD BY TRAIN which is a misspelling by Bowie as it should be NAKHODKA.  It was sold in aid of The Africa Foundation.


om pom david bowie Nahodka Westward by Train, by David Bowie and South African artist Beezy Bailey for charity


Below is another charity piece, this time sold in aid of Save the Children, of whom Bowie was a great supporter.


om pom david bowie lipogram Davids lip print 1979 for save the children. the inscription reads The lips part like silence set for alarm.


It’s called LIPOGRAM and is a print of Bowie’s lips that he made in 1979.  The inscription reads ‘the lips part like silence set for alarm’.

It’s been an emotional journey writing this post and I had to think hard about how to end it, but I knew there was really only one way and that’s with the sets of 5 prints that Bowie made as Christmas presents for his friends back in 1975.  They’re depictions from the tarots DEATH, LOVERS, STAR, EARTH and MOON.  So simple and just so beautiful…


om pom david bowie death

Above: DEATH


om pom david-bowie-untitled-(set-of-5)



om pom david bowie star lithograph

Above: STAR


om pom david Bowie moon one of 5 depictions from the tarots Death Lovers Star Earth and Moon Bowie produced them as xmas presents for his friends in 1975

Above: MOON


om pom david-bowie-untitled-(set-of-5) planet earth looks blue

And last but not least EARTH‘Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.’


Which leaves me with just one last thing, to sign out with the wondrous SPACE ODDITY, the original video from 1969.  Enjoy…