Mulling on David Bowie’s head

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Since the release of David Bowie’s greatly anticipated new musical works, and his collaboration with the contemporary artist Tony Oursler on the video for the single ‘Where Are We Now’, I have been considering the relationship between art and music.  Some might say that the contribution of fine artists in musical production is an aside, that through its use on album covers, posters and music videos it is simply a way of promoting the music group/individual’s work after it has been finished. That it is simply decoration. I however am not sure that this is true.  There seems to be an interesting shift in attitude towards art and music’s relationship, as the Oursler video appears to indicate. Oursler is known as a fine artist, his work has been exhibited all over the world at an eye-wateringly long list of galleries. The Bowie video feels much more like a collaboration between musician and artist than it does superficial promotion.  There are some notable long standing relationships between musicians and artists. The artist and writer Stanley Donwood (aka Dan Rickwood) has designed all of the album artwork for the band Radiohead since 1995, which feels more like the artist as an extension of the band.  And then there are artists that produce their own music.

An interesting example is David Shrigley’s record ‘Shrigley Forced To Speak With Others’ produced in 2006 by Azuli Records. An extension of his artistic practice through music. So, really it would seem that art and music’s relationship is a lot more complex than just simple promotion, and if more artists and musicians choose to work together like Bowie and Oursler, we could see some very interesting work developing.

Top image = David Bowie video still
Second image = Radiohead (Dan Rickwood)
Record = David Shrigley

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5 comments for “Mulling on David Bowie’s head

  1. 27 February 2013 at 10:29 pm

    It is also worth musing on the number of bands that had their beginnings in art schools an how many composers are also visual artists.

  2. Rob
    28 February 2013 at 4:52 pm

    David Bowie himself started life as an arts student didn’t he?

    The crossover between “art” and music is fairly common I think – Die Antwoord recently based some of their visual aesthetic on the work of Roger Ballen, who in turn produced a music video…

    Personally, music drives some of my photography, it must certainly count as an influence at least, but it’s fairly integral to my last project (Speak my Language – a song by Laurie Anderson, as it happens).

  3. 28 February 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Depends how you define ‘art student I suppose, he studies design at his secondary school(Bromley Technical High School) but did not go to an art school/college after he left at 16.

  4. 1 March 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I find this very interesting. But could anyone recommend any resources (if any) where the relation between photography and music (with music as a supplement enhancing the visual experience) is analysed?.

    Thanks in advance

  5. Olivia Irvine
    5 March 2013 at 7:43 am

    One thing is the video and music work. Another is the stage shows. These can be very visually artistic, like elaborate stage sets. I think Lady Gaga designs her own.

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