What is for sale, the art or the artist? That is the question. Sotheby’s is putting together a three sale run of David Bowie’s personal art collection for this November. Their promotional video, though beautifully done, has the feel of family members raiding a dead uncle’s house after a funeral. Crates being moved, works being packed, and sneak peaks of a Basquiat floating by. For some they will be buying the individual works for name or in the name of culture, and for others they will be buying a piece of David Bowie, no different than buying a signed record or Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit.
The Marcel Duchamp work up for sale, A Bruit Secret, sums it all up. A polished exterior, revived, familiar, understood, though unexpected, with something unknown rattling around inside. We will never know what creates the hidden noise unless we are willing to destroy what we love. All we can know is that without us the work would be static, but together something comes alive. We have to be there together, artist and audience. Let the mystery be, that’s all we’ve got.
In this case the artist is also the collector. Though the works themselves are stand alone and represent a wide swath of modern and contemporary art as a group they act as a separate work of art by David Bowie. As professed in the slick video produced of
Image: Marcel Duchamp, A Bruit Secret, 1964. Estimate £180,000-250,000.