The Thin White Duke in the mirror: inside David Bowie’s self-portraits

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Some time ago, the private collection of Bowie’s art works was put up for sale, and in that occasion also his personal collection of paintings was dsclosed. For those who don’t know, David Bowie was also a prolific painter: this website has all the artistic works made by him since the ’50s.

Going through his works, we stopped at his self-portraits. Self-portrait is the most narcissistic representation, but also the most intimate, where one can render himself in an unreal way, or dig into his own deepest unconsciousness. In both directions, there is however a revelation of ourselves, in terms of what we want to hide (perhaps exalting our own image) and what we alter. Looking at Bowie’s self-portraits, we can see him with his eyes, without makeup.

The first self-portrait dates back to 1978, the years of the Thin White Duke, and it’s inspired by the cover of Heroes, while the last has no date, and we like to think that it’s Life On Mars studio draft. Some of them have a vaguely vampireic appearance, almost confirming that strange theory that wants Bowie as an immortal being.

You can find all Bowie’s self-portraits here, in chronological order, showing the evolution of the image perceived by himself during the years. A different way, the most private and deep, to know David Bowie.

Bowie1
Self-portrait. 1978
Bowie2
Self-portrait, 1980 (year of Ashes to ashes)
Bowie3
Self-portrait, 1994
Bowie4
The Dhead – Outside, self-portrait, 1995 (used on Outside’s album cover)
Bowie5
Self-Portrait, 1995
Bowie6
Self-Portrait, 1996
Bowie7
Self-Portrait, 1996
Bowie8
Self-Portrait, 1996
Bowie10
Self-portrait/sketch, no date

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