‘David Bowie Is’ exhibit at Brooklyn Museum

Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Today’s review is not a play or a film. This one took me all the way to Brooklyn- specifically, the Brooklyn Museum. What made me go to Brooklyn?

The answer is ‘David Bowie Is.’ The Brooklyn Museum is hosting the final leg of the worldwide tour for the exhibit titled ‘David Bowie Is.’

 Sign and costume at exhibit entrance

True confession- yes, I’m a fan of David Bowie’s music, and have been since I was a teenager, but there’s more to it than that.

Several years ago I had an idea for a David Bowie project and even got so far as his manager telling me he liked the project and would show it to Bowie but, alas, the timing wasn’t good as Bowie was already seriously ill and had a full agenda of projects he wanted to work on before he died- and he didn’t want to be distracted by anything else.

But before I knew that I had done lots of research and it is impressive to see the documentation of so many items at this exhibit- the notes and lyrics sheets for ‘Fame,’ which Bowie co-wrote with John Lennon- and a photo of young David Jones mugging with life-size cartoon images of the Beatles from ‘Yellow Submarine.’


Also impressive were his notes and sketches for videos and audio production- showing he knew exactly what he wanted. And the costumes! Unique, exquisite and, for Bowie, so integral to how he constantly reinvented himself.


 Sketch by David Bowie for the ‘Young Americans’ album cover

This is an enormous display of Bowie memorabilia, rare video clips, artifacts, hand-written lyrics sheets, costumes, instruments, drawings… even paintings by Bowie.


 There is also a multi-screen giant room slash mini-theater, with surround sound, showing concert footage from the Spiders from Mars, including the infamous scene of their final show where, just before the last song, Bowie thanked the band and announced this was their final show- much to the surprise of the crowd and his band. Then, stunned, they still had to play the last song, ‘Rock and Roll Suicide.’

  Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, from archival video

Perhaps most impressive is the audio component. Your ticket price includes Sennheiser headphones and a geo-tracking feature that has an audio program for each room of the exhibit- which starts playing the moment you enter that room. As an attendee, you don’t need to do anything- except walk- to activate the appropriate audio program for that room.

As much as it has, I also noticed what was missing: references to his family- save for one portrait Bowie painted of his wife, Iman. Also missing were interviews with his fellow musicians and producers. There were a few snippets but- elsewhere- I have seen fascinating interviews with, say, Westport resident Nile Rogers, who produced the ‘Modern Love’ album and Iggy Pop (who lived with Bowie in Berlin for 3 years). There was a painting Bowie made of Iggy Pop on display, though not much else.

 Bowie’s painting of Iggy Pop in Berlin

It seems that’s what they wanted: to provide items you would not be able to see or find elsewhere. There is certainly plenty of those on display here- for your eyes and ears.

I give the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibit 4 stars out of 5. It is a must for Bowie fans but also for fans of rock music, as he was such an integral part of its history. It runs at the Brooklyn Museum through July 15th- and it’s actually easy to get to by subway from Grand Central.

Note- if you are interested in going, I urge you to get tickets online ahead of your visit as times sell out quickly and this show was even packed on a weekday afternoon. For more info, go to Brooklyn Museum dot org. Photos are not allowed but I got permission to take some and, for Katz Reviews listeners, I will post them at 8 AM today.

 Synthesizer used for ‘Heroes’

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews- and Bowie exhibit photos. This is Ed Katz talking… Bowie for WICC 600!”