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Posted on August 28, 2014

David Bowie IsTrying to encapsulate in a single space the career of one of rock music’s most prolific and perpetually reinventive artists is no simple task. Yet that was the challenge before the curators of “David Bowie Is,” a retrospective on the musician opening at the Museum of ContemporaryArt, Chicago on September 23.

“The goal was to show what an innovator he’s been all these years,” says chief curator Michael Darling, summarizing what unifies the show’s more than 400 objects, including handwritten lyrics, 60 costumes, music-video set designs and even personal diary entries. As Darling puts it, every piece was selected to reflect how the Thin White Duke “has a good nose for the zeitgeist and where the culture is heading.”

He points to the section on Bowie’s “Berlin period” in the late 1970s, which includes brooding paintings and photographs that the artist made while holed up in a German apartment. During that time, Bowie created albums like Low andHeroes with minimalist sound and abstract lyrics that not only captured the Cold War mood of the moment but influenced rock music for decades to come. Darlingorganized the show chronologically, and he says it will offer “a dynamic and immersive experience,” with design cues that signal Bowie’s transformations during his near half-century of creative output. But, as the exhibit’s title suggests, the only era that matters to Bowie is now.

“He’s not someone prone to look backward,” Darling says.

Read the story at Rhapsody.

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