An exhibition is opening at the South Bank that’ll look back at perhaps the most iconic portrait of the transgressive pop star, the Aladdin Sane record cover, exploring the relationship between Bowie and photographer Brian Duffy.

The exhibition will be part of a range of events culminating in a weekend celebrating the artist.

Aladdin Sane 1973 (c) Duffy Archive

The exhibition will follow the journey of the portrait, mapping how Bowie’s continuous reshaping of his image paved the way for audiences to rethink their own identities. The exhibition will begin by spotlighting the vibrant music scene of the early 1970s, contextualising the pivotal moment in which Bowie and Duffy met. It will go on to explore the unique relationship between the musician and photographer, and the January 1973 photoshoot from which the iconic Aladdin Sane image was born.

Professor Camille Paglia defined the portrait as “one of the most emblematic and influential art images of the past half century, reproduced and parodied in advertising, media and entertainment worldwide.”

The exhibition will run from 6th April to 28th May 2023.

The exhibition is complemented by a new book by Brian Duffy’s son, Chris, a celebration of Bowie’s album – with unseen images, going on sale at the end of March.

The Southbank Centre Archive will also present a separate free display exploring David Bowie’s history with the Centre, stretching over 50 years, and his ongoing legacy. From his performance in the recently opened Purcell Room in 1969, to later performances alongside Lou Reed and his curation of Southbank Centre’s annual contemporary music festival, Meltdown, never before seen archival material will be available for public view.

There will also be a weekend of events, music and poetry over 21st-22nd April.

Tickets to the events and exhibition go on sale at 10am from Wednesday 1st March from here, unless you’re a Southbank Member, in which case you get early bird tickets.


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