MILLIONS of fans around the world mourned the passing of a musical great when David Bowie died earlier this year.
The iconic rock star’s paintings are less well known, but now an eerie self-portrait entitled DHEAD is to go under the hammer in Scotland.
The work, expected to fetch up to £5000 at Lyon & Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh, was personally donated by the musician to a charity exhibition in the city in 1998.
It was submitted to next week’s contemporary art sale shortly after Bowie died in mid-January after losing a liver cancer battle aged 69.
The Edinburgh-based collector putting the painting up for sale is understood to bought it at a fundraising exhibition for the HIV/Aids charity Crusaid.
Bowie – who studied art, music and design at Bromley Technical High School, in London – rarely put his own art on public display.
However some portraits from his Berlin-based era did feature in the blockbuster exhibition devoted to his life and legacy, which opened at the V&A in London three years ago.
Charlotte Riordan, head of contemporary art at Lyon & Turnbull, said: “David Bowie’s entire career was spent actively blurring the lines between the art forms of music, performance and design; the visual playing as big a part as the aural. Famously modest, the extent of his skill as a painter and passion for collecting is little known amongst the general public.
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“Like so many of the influential bands formed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a product of an art school education. As well as practising art, he also read widely on the subject, even becoming well-regarded as a critic in the 1990s. His collection featured modern British artists like Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Peter Lanyon and Damien Hirst.”
Held at the City Art Centre, the Artaid exhibition featured works contributed by Prince Charles, Paul Simonon, the bass player with The Clash, as well as Scottish artists including John Bellany, Alison Watt, Craigie Aitchison, Ken Currie and Steven Campbell.
Bowie was an avid art collector and owned works by Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi and Peter Howson, who also donated work to the same exhibition. Original drawings of Bowie by Howson were sold at auction for more than £35,000 three years ago after being put up for sale by the artist to help pay for medical treatment for his daughter.
Ms Riordan added: “I was very excited with this work came in for the sale, as I’m a massive Bowie fan and I had never seen any of his artwork in person before.
“It was also a quality piece of art as well. It was nice to see that was as talented as an artist as he was as a musician. It’s extremely rare for any of his work to come onto the market. He hadn’t exhibited anywhere since the 1990s. He was always quite modest about his work.
“I think he maybe accepted that his reputation as a musician was always going to overshadow anything else he turned his hand to. But I think, privately, he consider himself an artist across all mediums.
“His style references some of the bizarreness and esotericism of 1930s-era German Expressionist art, unsurprising given the dark and atmospheric impact that Berlin had on his musical output.
“I’ve found a record of four or so examples of his work on this size and medium having appeared at auction before in the low thousands, so I’ve tried to keep it in line with those.
“I’m expecting a lot of interest in it from Bowie fans, mainly, but if you like him you are probably very interested in art, design and aesthetics anyway, as tbey were so much a part of him.”