I’m a Bowie fan from the first era of buying vinyl, which means that even before I was aware of Duffy as a photographer, I’d held, stared and cherished some of his most widely recognised work. Consequently, Bowie by Duffy at Proud Chelsea, which runs until 5th February 2017, was a must-see for me.
The exhibition of ten original prints signed by the late Brian Duffy celebrates the work of the two artists who collaborated on five photo shoots over a period of 8 years between 1972 and 1980.
During that time Duffy shot perhaps the most iconic image of Bowie for the Aladdin Sane album cover in 1972. This was followed by a shoot for Lodger in 1979, which saw Bowie styled like an accident victim lying on a tiled floor and photographed on Polaroid film. Jump forward another year and Bowie and Duffy were collaborating on the ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album artwork.
While the two Aladdin Sane prints (Eyes Open and Classic) attract immediate attention, it’s the contact sheets for the Aladdin Sane and Scary Monster shoots that really pull you in and hold your attention.
However, I found I was most drawn to a print at the back of the exhibition, ‘David Bowie with Scottie Dog, London 1980 ‘ which appears to have been taken during a more relaxed moment, with Bowie sat pigeon-toed and looking off camera, to his side a scotty dog sat in an identical chair looking in the same direction. There’s an appealing vulnerability and informality to the shot amongst other carefully orchestrated images.
Even if you’re not a Bowie fan, Duffy’s work is well worth the walk down King’s Road.