This year, the Artist and Society class will consider the life, work, myth and music of David Bowie. Bowie was an idol of the ephemeral pop world for nearly 50 years. The class will provide a vocabulary for the study of popular culture, and will explore the spirits of the times in which his work appeared, from swinging London to industrial rock. But Bowie’s work, as a pioneer of gender-bending, a mythographer, a musical chameleon, a genius of self-styling and reinvention, will be the centre of the class—from Space Oddity to Blackstar.
We will also consider Bowie as a point of intersection with other movements and people in pop culture, for as a dedicated collaborator, he gives access to other figures of fascination, such as Andy Warhol, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Nicholas Roeg, Hanif Kareshi, Alexander McQueen, and on and on. As an artist always interested in collective effort, he is exemplary as a sign of his times as much as for his individual vision. Bowie is both an entry into star-world, and an astral investigator. Moon dust has covered him, but his sidereal dreams roll on still.