Berlin Preview: The Scene

Keeping busy in the off-hours around Berlin.

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WWD Berlin Preview issue 06/24/2014

Keeping busy in the off-hours around Berlin.

: “Bowie without Berlin is unimaginable.”

That’s how Martin Roth, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, summed up the relationship between the iconic musician and Germany’s capital. The newly opened “David Bowie” exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau features most of the V&A’s wildly popular “David Bowie Is” show from last year, along with a special section focusing on the singer’s stint in the German capital.

From 1976 to 1978, Bowie lived in Berlin, and the city’s inspiration led to three albums now known as the Berlin Trilogy: “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger.”

Sixty items have been added to the exhibition for a dash of local color. Highlights include photos of Bowie exiting the Orient Express in Berlin’s Zoo train station, a worn pale blue velvet bench from Seventies hot spot Dschungel (“Jungle”) nightclub, and never-before-exhibited correspondence between Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. They appeared together in the 1978 film “Just a Gigolo” but, having filmed in separate cities, never met on set.

Also newly on display are Bowie sketches, drawings and paintings, many strongly influenced by German Expressionists, like a painting and woodcut by artist Erich Heckel from the Brücke Museum. Bowie and Iggy Pop were frequent visitors there, and Heckel’s works clearly inspired cover poses for the 1977 albums “Heroes” and “The Idiot.”

Additionally, there are pictures of Bowie’s apartment on Hauptstrasse in the Schöneberg neighborhood, as well as his house keys.

“When [visitors] step out of the museum, they should be able to look for certain things they have seen in the show — I mean, the Hansa studios are just 500 meters away,” explained Christine Heidemann, curator of the Berlin section.

To that end, curious sorts can take walking tours that highlight the ch-ch-ch-changes in Bowie’s Berlin, or visit historic Hansa Tonstudio, where “Heroes” was produced. The studios have also played host to Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Brian Eno and U2.

The new Berlin section is exclusive to the city, and will not travel on with the exhibition when it departs in August.

— Susan Stone

Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin
7 Niederkirchnerstrasse, at the corner of 110 Stresemannstrasse, 10963
Tel.: +49-30-254-86-0
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Entry: 14 euros, or $19
Hansa Tonstudio and Bowie tours via

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