David Bowie has never been afraid of a little controversy, so it comes as little surprise that the renaissance man, who sits on the editorial board of Modern Painters and is a co-owner of the art book purveyor 21 Publishing, has agreed to host the Brooklyn Museum of Art's exhibition of Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection on his BowieNet Web site beginning Oct. 2.
News of Bowie's participation comes amid threats from New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani to pull the city's $7.2 million dollar funding from the museum it doesn't cancel the exhibit. In fact, Bowie printed some of the more salacious articles about the exhibit on BowieNet, including a pointed barb from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights which charged: "I know of no other enterprise, profession, or industry that allows as many frauds to perpetrate on it than the artistic community. No wonder Hitler was accepted as an artist. All he had to do was proclaim himself one and that was enough for creative types to welcome him."
What has everybody up in arms is a painting of the Virgin Mary by African artist Chris Ofili called "The Holy Virgin Mary" that incorporates elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines. Other works, including images of animals being mutilated and sliced in half, are also contributing to the furor. "The work by Chris Ofili and the others is probably the most important showing since the Armory Show at the opening of the century," Bowie said in a statement. "It's definitely going to be as talked about."
According to the Thin White Duke's reps, Bowie is such a fan of the Saatchi Collection that he approached the museum months ago and asked to be an official sponsor the show. (He even paid for that privilege). He also recorded an audio tour narration for the 141-piece show. There's no official word whether Bowie and Iman will show up for tonight's gala celebrating the show, but his reps are leaving the door open. "He's in town, because he's rehearsing for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, so we don't know until the last minute, but there's a very good chance Bowie will be there."