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The Month Ahead: Icons

The only problem with the V&A's 300-item David Bowie retrospective? It had to leave 74,700 items out.

Don’t be surprised if sometime in the future we get a new March holiday—Ziggy Day, say. Not only is David Bowie releasing his first album in a decade this month—ending speculation that the singer, now 66, has gone pipe-and-slippers on us—but London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is also unveiling a huge retrospective of his career.

The curators of “David Bowie Is” pored over some 75,000 archival bits and bobs, accumulated by Bowie during half a century of manic creativity, to arrive at the 300-plus objects meant to reveal what the “Is” is. These range from Bowie’s Stardust-era psychedelic jumpsuit to the artist’s own diary entries (Friday: Revolutionize popular culture).

For co-curator Victoria Broackes, it’s the impromptu stuff that brings the show to life. “It’s extraordinary,” she says of Bowie’s handwritten lyrics, “seeing the crossings-out and line changes, how a song that’s become part of our lives’ soundtrack could have been so different.”

Broackes describes Bowie as the “dream subject” for the V&A. “I cannot think of anyone—not just in pop, but in any field—who has the breadth of inspiration, output and reach that he has,” she says. “He worked on so many things, often at once. It really is astonishing.” MARCH 23

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