Two rolls of wallpaper featuring a unique collaboration between David Bowie and designer Laura Ashley will be offered in Sotheby’s print sale, which will open bidding on April 28th. The wallpaper was originally printed for David Bowie’s first solo exhibition ‘New Afro Pagan Work: 1975-1995’ at London’s Cork Street Gallery. The pop icon’s disruption of social convention and boundless transformations have yielded a legacy that spans the music, art and fashion industries. Throughout his prolific career of genre-bending collaborations and experimental projects, much ephemera has been preserved— but the print edition is one example of an unlikely collaboration with a commercial homeware designer.
The first print titled Conflict carries an estimate of $25,000-40,000, and features the image of Lucian Freud’s 1993 Painter Working, Reflection, a nude self-portrait encased in a vitrine reminiscent of Damien Hirst’s infamous 1991 piece—an open-mouthed taxidermy shark suspended in a formaldehyde tank. Hirst cited Bowie as a source of inspiration and eventually came to collaborate with the musician in 1995 on a set of large-scale limited edition Spin Paintings, made to look like paint-covered vinyl records. the project marked the meeting of two British icons. The second set of wallpaper depicts the image of a crawling Minotaur— a horned mythic character which features in Picasso’s early period works— the print is estimated to sell between $20,000-30,000. Both editions of wallpaper show the figures set against a backdrop of traditional English floral textile design signature of the Laura Ashley brand. Explaining the impetus for the wallpaper, Bowie said ‘it’s traditional art in the hands of modern art.”
Bowie’s decades long career hosted a wide array of collaborations across music, fashion and art, producing a long roster of notable cross-genre mash ups with famous cultural figures such as Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, John Lennon and Alexander McQueen—whose iconic commissioned Union Jack coat was featured in the 2018 retrospective exhibition of the late artist’s vast archive at the Brooklyn Museum.