A gallery owner pays tribute to the man he knew through photographs.
By Chris Murray
I was born the same year as David Bowie. His latest and last album, Blackstar, with its themes of love, death, and resurrection blew me away. His video for the song “Lazerus,” a deeply moving statement on mortality as well as a farewell to fans and friends, is particularly poignant. It is heart wrenching, and has been viewed since the album’s release on his birthday last week over 17 million times. A visual artist as well as a musical artist, David Bowie’s videos have always been compelling. Being the same vintage as David Bowie his song and video “Where Are We Now?” from his last album in 2013 The Next Day brought me to tears. It is so tender a love song and video that it evokes an almost unbearable aching of the heart.
I was fortunate to celebrate David Bowie’s artistry at Govinda Gallery through the photographs and films of the musical artist’s longtime friend and photographer Mick Rock. I presented Mick’s first exhibition of his photographs Mick Rock: A Photographic Record at Govinda Gallery in the spring of 1999. That exhibition’s invitation card featured his masterpiece portrait of Ziggy Stardust from the Saxophone sessions shoot on the front of the card.
In 2002, I also presented Mick Rock’s second exhibition which featured exclusively his photographs of David Bowie and was also a launch for Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust, the collaboration between Bowie and Rock in the form of a stunning limited edition book from Genesis Publications in England. It was a spectacular exhibition and a spectacular book.
Mick Rock’s photographs were also featured in the traveling museum exhibition organized by Govinda Gallery with the Columbus Museum, Sound & Vision: Monumental Rock and Roll Photography in 2012. It was a pleasure for me to curate that exhibition and The Columbus Museum selected Mick Rock’s stunning portrait of Ziggy Stardust as the signature piece for the exhibition featured on its invitation, brochure, and museum billboard. That large scale photograph is now part of the collection of The Columbus Museum. Govinda Gallery continues to represent Mick Rock’s images of David Bowie along with his other extraordinary photographs.
Mick Rock recently collaborated with David Bowie on a book for the celebrated publisher Taschen that has been just recently released. I edited and wrote for Taschen’s book Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll featuring Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs and was so pleased when Mick told me last year that the Elvis book was shown to him and David Bowie as an example of how a great book of photos of a musical artist can look. David Bowie loved and was influenced by Elvis Presley.
Thanks to David Bowie for his brave artistry. He was a rebel and a poet and his legacy will be with us for a long time to come. And thank you to my dear friend Mick Rock for sharing his stories, photographs, films, and words about David Bowie with me.
“As long as there’s ME
As long as there’s YOU”