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Bowie Taken by Duffy - smoke bowie

Scary Monster 1980. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive



David Bowie is perhaps the most enduring pop star of all time. Not only was he a singer, musician, songwriter, painter, and actor; he also had a unique ability to recreate his personal image time and time again whilst keeping his music ahead of the times. 

Never one to remain in a comfort zone, Bowie sought out other mavericks, creatives, and unusual characters, trusting them to bring to each collaborative session something original and inspiring. Bowie was a visionary and an artistic chameleon, and he saw a similar spirit in the photographer Duffy with whom he was able to break barriers in each session they produced together. 

The first of their five creative sessions was also Bowie’s first persona – Ziggy Stardust in his spacesuit arriving on earth with his guitar. The Ziggy persona was left behind at the height of his stardom and Bowie had moved on to another version of himself, the duo had created the iconic Aladdin Sane album cover. Bowie travelled to America to star in the cult film ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’. His on-screen character Thomas Jerome Newton, another alien trapped on Earth, transitioned to become the Thin White Duke for the famous Station to Station tour. Duffy photographed Bowie on location in the New Mexico Desert in an innovative shoot at sunset with minimal equipment and no assistance; it was spontaneous, innovative and creative, just as Bowie liked it.

After the Thin White Duke, David broke away from America and moved to Europe to work on the Berlin Trilogy. The Lodger shoot was for the final album in that legendary period and Duffy’s brief was to create a falling man. Duffy suspended Bowie with a series of props he designed to show him falling through the air.

Bowie’s final shoot with Duffy took place when he returned to the UK after living in obscurity in Berlin. Bowie revisited his earlier mime influences in creating the Pierrot clown, and the artist Edward Bell later reworked some of Duffy’s photographs to create the unique artwork. The result was another version of Bowie becoming a reality and evolved into the cover for Scary Monsters, an album that went straight to number one in the UK charts. David Bowie was never to be typecast, he always sought to innovate and to transform himself supported and inspired by extraordinary creative collaborators, Duffy a leading light amongst them. Scary Monsters, an album that went straight to number one in the British charts. 



Duffy was one of the small group of pioneering photographers who defined the innovative look of London’s ‘Swinging Sixties’, and his training in art, fashion and design at St. Martins School of Art provided him inspiration throughout his career. Duffy began his photographic career at Vogue covering fashion, a successful relationship that continued into the 1970s. However, as an artist with an outstanding creative talent he was always looking for ways to create something new and exciting and push forward boundaries. His award winning and ground-breaking surrealist advertising campaigns caught the eye of David Bowie’s manager Tony Defries and Duffy was invited to do a test shoot with his new star – David Bowie.

This first successful session led to Duffy being requested to shoot Bowie’s new album. Duffy not only renamed the album from Bowie’s own ‘A Lad Insane’ to ‘Aladdin Sane’ he also designed the whole visual concept of the album.

The surrealistic album cover image, now referred to as the Mona Lisa of Pop, is perhaps the best known of all of the many David Bowie images and has become one of the most iconic pop images of all time. In 2013 an image from this shoot was chosen as the main identity for the worldwide touring Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition ‘David Bowie is’ which attracted over 2 million visitors.  

Duffy’s working relationship and personal friendship continued with Bowie until 1980 when Duffy retired from photography. Since the inception of the Duffy archive in 2008 Duffy’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and is highly collectable. Recently Duffy was voted one of the top 100 most influential photographers of all time and frequently cited as the ‘photographer’s photographer’. 

Bowie Taken by Duffy - portrait

Duffy. © Duffy Archive.


that defined the History of Pop

During the nine years often considered the chameleonic artist's golden years, they collaborated on five photo shoots and three album covers. Together, Duffy and Bowie broke the visual boundaries of identity and, in 1973, brought to life the timeless cultural symbol that is the cover of Aladdin Sane.

A journey thought the five most iconic photo shoots of David Bowie's career, often referred to as the "Golden Years". The five sessions were Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke, Lodger and Scary Monsters.

More than 150 framed works, including vintage and archival prints of the sessions, more than 30 large-format Chromaluxe prints featuring Bowie, original objects such as cameras, posters, albums, artwork and costume designs. A walkthrough accompanied by filmed interviews with all the key people associated with Bowie and Duffy at the time, including musicians, film and music producers, artists, make-up artists, hairdressers, actors, designers, journalists, Bowie's associates and friends, and Duffy.

A great opportunity to immerse yourself in some of the most important images in the history of photography and music. 

Bowie Taken by Duffy - Contact Sheet
Bowie Taken by Duffy - Ziggy
Bowie Taken by Duffy - diazo
Bowie Taken by Duffy - Negativo