A STRIKING series of David Bowie portraits by Peter Howson was unveiled yesterday as part of a collection of artworks being sold by the Scottish artist’s former wife.
The ten previously unseen sketches show the singer looking gaunt and occasionally moody, an expression which may be explained by Howson’s admission yesterday that Bowie fainted and fell over during the sitting “because I didn’t give him a break”.
Despite that tough treatment, the two stars, who first met when Bowie bought two of Howson’s controversial war paintings, became good friends following their collaboration on the series nearly 20 years ago.
The drawings are among 390 artworks being sold by Howson’s ex-wife, Terry, to raise funds to help care for the former couple’s daughter Lucie, who has Asperger syndrome.
The pair appeared together at McTear’s Auctioneers in Glasgow, where the collection will be sold later this month.
Explaining how the Bowie series was created, Howson said: “The Bowies are special because they were done from life. He posed for me during the period of about two weeks, [in] 1994.
“At one point, he fainted and fell over because I did not give him a rest. I tend to never give the people that are posing for me a rest, so that was quite a strange event as well. We then just became friends after that.”
It is the first time that the Bowie sketches, done in muted greens and browns, have been shown in public.
They are a key part of Ms Howson’s private collection of her former husband’s work.
Describing her difficulty in choosing which artworks to part with, Ms Howson said yesterday: “I looked at the Bowies and I thought, ‘Oh, do I really want to part with these?’. But Bowie is really up now and I knew that it would create a storm of interest. Something has to go in order to protect Lucie, so sorry, Bowie, but you’re it.”
Howson, now 54, gained international fame and notoriety while working as an official war artist in the 1993 Bosnian civil war.
He produced shocking and controversial paintings detailing the atrocities taking place, including the two pictures which were bought by Bowie.
Howson’s works were also purchased by stars including fellow pop icon Madonna, who posed for another series of ten drawings which are being auctioned as well.
Howson attended Glasgow School of Art and received an OBE in 2009 for his work. Other artwork going under the hammer on 28 April includes “extremely rare” drawings of his teachers done while he was a pupil at Prestwick Academy in Prestwick, Ayrshire.
None of the works will have a reserve price, meaning all will be sold at the auction.
Like his 26-year-old daughter, Howson has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism which makes social interaction difficult.
Speaking earlier of his love for daughter Lucie, he said: “She’s a great girl, the love of my life, I suppose, the greatest love I could ever have. We’ve almost got something telepathic going on.”