Quick menu

Duffy, Bowie & Aladdin Sane ...

‘The thing about the photographs is that there is no smell or sound and in sense it tells the truth and yet it is a lie’ - Brian Duffy

Brian Duffy or ‘Duffy’ as he was known was one of the leading photographers of the twentieth century. For eight years, between 1972–1980 he worked with David Bowie on five separate occasions and helped shape and influence his changing personas across the decade; we are delighted for the first time to be able to share some of his incredible prints here

Duffy first came into prominence during the swinging sixties when together with fellow fashion photographers David Bailey & Terence Donovan, Norman Parkinson nicknamed the three ‘The Black Trinity’, as they were friends and rivals and became known for their dynamic photography that shaped a generation.

 

 

Beginning his career as a fashion designer Duffy soon moved into photography and his understanding of design and eye for detail ensured he worked for all the top fashion magazines around the world. He claimed he did his best fashion work with French Elle where his creative and artistic freedom was allowed to flourish.

In 1972 he was asked to work on his first shoot with David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona.

This first series of photographs were shot in Duffy's studio in London. Bowie is wearing a two piece quilted suit designed by Freddie Burretti for the 1972 Ziggy Stardust tour. A tour that saw Bowie visit the United Kingdom, North America & Japan, and successfully promoted the studio album The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

This image, one of a number from the same shoot, is available to buy here 

 

 

© Duffy

David and Duffy had an instant rapport and Duffy’s most famous photograph dates from their second shoot together. The iconic and revolutionary cover of David Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane, is a shot that became the defining look of Bowie’s long career, and has been referred to as the Mona Lisa of pop.

Chris Duffy, Duffy’s son, recalled in a recent interview with AnOther Magazine, that the famous red and blue lightning bolt which is painted across Bowie’s face was, in fact, inspired by the logo on rice cooker in the studio kitchen. ‘I remember David sitting in front of that with Pierre Laroche (make-up artist), and they had obviously talked about using this flash. Well Pierre started to apply this tiny little flash on his face and when Duffy saw it he said ‘No, not like fucking that, like this.’ He literally drew it right across his face and said to Pierre, ‘Now, fill that in.’

When asked about the iconic shoot Duffy said ‘ “Talking about a creative session is like talking about a boxing match. It happened because there was a little bit of magic in the room that night. I’ll say it myself, it’s a fucking great cover.” 

This iconic print is available to buy here

This Aladdin Sane contact sheet was taken from the original 1973 negatives. Apart from the Kodak Ektachrome colourfilm, Duffy also shot two rolls of black and white film. This contact sheet was put together by Duffy's son Chris and includes the original colour album cover image. It is available to buy here

© Duffy

© Duffy

The David Bowie Aladdin Sane image was digitally remastered to create this black and white negative format by Chris Duffy in 2012 and is still as recognisable as the original. It is available to buy here

Duffy and Bowie continued to work together on three more occasions during the pivotal years of Bowie’s career.

The next sessions were Thin White Duke in New Mexico while Bowie was on locations shooting the movie ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’  and the very technical shot for the 1979 Lodger album.

© Duffy

 

Duffy's final shoot was for the Scary Monsters album in 1980 which was Bowie's 14th studio album. In this he is wearing a costume designed by Natasha Kornilof. Bowie asked her to make him the 'most beautiful clown in the circus'. The bleached out look is supposed to symbolise the discarding of Bowie's old personae.

This print is available to buy here

This wonderful collection of prints clearly demonstrates that when the king of glam was assuming and discarding extraordinary personas, Duffy was capturing them all. Sir Peter Blake described his work as 'a wonderful collection of thought provoking, exemplary images that resonate just as powerfully today as when they were first made' - we couldn't agree more!

 

Related items

Duffy (1933-2010)

Duffy (1933-2010)

Brian Duffy was one of the leading photographers who defined the look of London's 'Swinging Sixties' & elevated himself to celebrity status.

photographer
David Bowie

David Bowie

David Bowie was a leading figure in popular music for over five decades & regarded by critics & musicians as a true innovator.

artist
David Bowie (DB001DUFFY)

David Bowie

Aladdin Sane is the one image that has defined David Bowie and is nicknamed the 'Mona Lisa of Pop' - Shot by Duffy in his London studio.

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB008DUFFY)

David Bowie

The Aladdin Sane image was digitally remastered to a black and white negative format by Chris Duffy in 2012

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB002DUFFY)

David Bowie

Contact sheet taken from the photo shoot for Aladdin Sane

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB003DUFFY)

David Bowie

David Bowie 'Scary Monsters' image 'close up' with cigarette

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB005DUFFY)

David Bowie

Taken from the Scary Monsters album cover shoot by Duffy in 1980, 'the most beautiful clown in the circus' - David Bowie

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB004DUFFY)

David Bowie

David Bowie Scary Monsters Pierrot shot in London in 1980

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie (DB006DUFFY)

David Bowie

Alternative shot taken from the Aladdin Sane 'photo shoot in 1973, known as 'Eyes Open' - this image was rediscovered in the archive in 2011

Prices from £245.83
print
David Bowie Remembered

David Bowie Remembered

We are all still reeling from the tragic loss of David Bowie. Here is a wonderful tribute from one of our photographers, Mark Mawston.

News
FINAL WEEK: David Bowie Exhibition at Lucy Bell Gallery

FINAL WEEK: David Bowie Exhibition at Lucy Bell Gallery

Don't miss the final chance to see our David Bowie: Silhouettes & Shadows Exhibition at the Lucy Bell Gallery in Hastings - closing on March

News
David Bowie Remembered Exhibition: Lucy Bell Gallery, Hastings

David Bowie Remembered Exhibition: Lucy Bell Gallery, Hastings

Our acclaimed 'Silhouettes & Shadows: David Bowie Remembered' Exhibition is now on at the Lucy Bell Gallery, Hastings

News
Geoff MacCormack's Amazing Photographic Journey with David Bowie

Geoff MacCormack's Amazing Photographic Journey with David Bowie

Geoff MacCormack's epic Photographic Journey with David Bowie on the Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs & Young Americans tours.

News
The Stamps That Fell To Earth

The Stamps That Fell To Earth

This month 52 sets of the brand new David Bowie Royal Mail Stamps have been sent into space to mark their launch.

News