Aladdin Sane: 50 Years Exhibition

6 Apr-28 May 2023


Fifty years on from the release of David Bowie’s album, this exhibition delves into the creation of its iconic ‘lightning bolt’ cover portrait by Brian Duffy.

For the album Aladdin Sane, the creativity of Bowie’s music was matched by an extraordinary image on the cover, photographed by Duffy (1933 – 2010).

With a focus on the photo session that gave us Bowie’s ‘lightning bolt’ portrait, this exhibition explores the continuous reshaping of Bowie’s image, and his part, along with Duffy’s, in a reimagining of sexual and gender identity.

Professor Camille Paglia defined the portrait as ‘one of the most emblematic and influential art images of the past half century, reproduced and parodied in advertising, media and entertainment worldwide.’

Of his father’s work, Chris Duffy said, ‘My father’s image of Bowie is often called the Mona Lisa of Pop. It’s important to remember it was the result of a short studio shoot using film, which then had to be sent out for commercial processing.

‘There were no instant digital images then or Photoshop. It’s extraordinary how it’s lasted and been endlessly reworked. Wherever I go in the world, it’s always somewhere on a T-shirt.’

This exhibition is curated by Chris Duffy and Geoffrey Marsh.

Venue: Exhibition Space, Level 1, Royal Festival Hall.

Open Mon –⁠ Tues 10am –⁠ 6pm, Weds –⁠ Sun 10am –⁠ 8pm

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