Esquire has an interesting—but not terribly persuasive—theory that David Bowie used his interest in collecting modern British art as 'one of the avenues with which he explored his creativity."
Interestingly, the bulk of the pieces on auction were purchased in the early 1990s, at a time when Bowie's stock was at a relatively low ebb. He'd hit commercial gold in the early 1980s with his album Let's Dance, and had made a killing on several tours that decade, but his albums Tonight and Never Let Me Down, as well as his foray into alt-rock with the group Tin Machine, were met with jeers from critics as well as many of the fans he'd made at the height of his fame. The works he collected during the period, like Lanyon's Witness and Auerbach's Head of Gerde Boehm, are striking and intellectually demanding, and must have given Bowie the artistic boost he needed. In 1995 he released a remarkable collaboration with his old pal Brian Eno, 1.Outside, and a string of excellent albums and tours followed, before heart problems caused him to withdraw in 2004.
This idea that being a collector is homologous to being an artist doesn't give either side much credit. More than that, it sells Bowie's personality and intellect short to reduce all of his endeavors to some form of artistry.
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