Early in the new year, walking in Switzerland, Bowie would bump into Brian Eno. Eno would recieve a bloody nose and bruised cheekbone, Bowie a split lip and chipped tooth. They began to fight visciously, yelling at each other to 'Look where you're going!'. Then at the most heated passionate moment of their quarrel they kissed and embraced like nothing before.
Bowie suggested to Brian that they could perhaps spend some time in the studio together, and winked. Brian smiled and suggested they take a taxi there.
It was not easy to get time alone in there, with them was lead guitarist Reeves Gabrels, pianist Mike Garson, rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar, bass player Erdal Kizilcay (who also liked to dabble on synthesizers), and drummer Sterling Campbell. They gave Bowie and Brian privacy as need be, but also collaborated with them on recording some stuff. A lot of stuff.
Such was the passion in that studio that Bowie only surfaced in March to join the editorial board of the London Fine Arts quarterly, 'Modern Painters'. He just wandered in and said 'Where do I join?'. They told him to 'Get the hell out of here, this isn't some goofy pop disco!', so Bowie threatened to get all 'bisexual on their ass' if they didn't let him join the board. Sure enough they did, not wanting to create a scene in front of Jeeves, Berhnard and Herbetfieldshirton - their newest members.
Meanwhile Bowie would spend five months in the studio with Eno and friends. In that time they put down enough tracks to fill 576 albums, and agreed that starting with the release of the first one they would release an album every two weeks. Bowie describes the process of recording these five months :
'I'd write down on a piece of paper, some kind of motivational suggestion. I'd write six or so of these and hand them at random to the musicians, to see what I could get out of them. Some kind of new feeling or approach to their music.'
Some of these notes still survive today :
"Play me a hit tune or you're dead meat buddy"
"We all hate you, you're music stinks, we're replacing you on Friday"
"You lost your limbs in a terrible car accident, play as you would if this had happened, or it will."
"We know what you do on Saturday evenings, we are watching you, we are taping you, you're finished."
The tapes from the sessions, if measured, come to seven billion trillion trillion miles. 'You'll be seeing a lot from these sessions, around 600 albums, I'm excited and I hope my fans are too, I would not want to disappoint them and release only one then just forget about it, no sir!'
Meanwhile Bowie took on the role of interviewer, a strange reversal, when he interviewed artist Comte Balthazar Klossowski de Rola (Balthus for short), at the Balthus family home in Switzerland.
Bowie - So Balthi, what's with the shit long name? I think it's ridiculous
Balthus - It comes from my family heritige. Please keep this to my artwork
Bowie - Yeah well, whatever. So what do you do? Slap paint around and shit?
Balthus - It is more of an idealistic form of manifesting internalised concepts and emotions into the physical world, I have an inner belief...
Bowie - Cut the shit Balthi, you slap clay onto boards, you spray some paint on sheets and sell it for millions. I do the same with my music.
Balthus - Yes.
Interviews and art aside. It was time for a sad epilogue as Mick Ronson's posthumous album 'Heaven and Hull' was released in June. Bowie guested on the Dylan cover 'Like a Rolling Stone' ending a working relationship that started in the Ziggy Stardust days. To release the album Bowie had Ronson exhumed and held a press conference 'Weekend at Bernies' style, tying Ronson's arm to his and waving at reporters. It was a both touching and sickening scene.
With interviews and membership in the London Fine Arts society in his belt it was time for Bowie to enter the world of fine art. From September 29th to October 9th the 'War Child : Little Pieces from Big Stars' exhibition at the Flowers East Gallery in East London was held, and Bowie made sure some of his works were on prominent display.
These works were mostly candid snaps of Iman in the nude. Iman in the shower, Iman getting dressed ect. They had been rejected by the Nude Wives section of the local "Bazookas!" magazine, but with this new forum he would find success. Many of the male patrons found themselves drawn to Bowie's display again and again, ignoring other displays by Paul and Linda McCartney, Bono, Pete Townshend and Charlie Watts.
When the works from the War Child exhibits were auctioned on October 4th Bowie's candid pictures commanded some of the highest prices, mostly by men wearing grey trenchcoats who would exclaim "Cooor!!" and "Mmmm!!" whenever a picture was displayed for auctioning.
Bowie was slowly becoming very renowned in the art world for his brashness and sensitivity. His interview with Balthus was published in the autumn issue of 'Modern Painters'. He purchased the painting 'Croatian and Muslim' by Peter Howson for 18,000 pounds. He displayed himself on street corners for 10 pounds a look. When news interviewers chased him down an alley he could be heard shouting, 'It's Art!!! Naff off!!'.
Later in October MTV were not in the arty spirit. They wanted David to play all his old hits on his appearence in their 'Unplugged' series. Bowie wanted to play all of his new definately-not-hits. The show was cancelled when Bowie threatened to unleash Tin Machine on the world again. At one stage community service announcements were aired advising people to 'Duck and Cover' if they heard the Tin Machine warning sirens in their areas. The world would never know how close to the brink we came.
On November 17th he was at it again with this art thing. At the 'Minotaur Myths And Legends' exhibition at the Berkeley Square Gallery his nudie snapshots were included alongside other works by Michael Ayrton, Picasso, Elizabeth Frink, Igor Mitoraj and Francis Bacon. 'We Saw a Minotaur' was what Bowie's display was called, a series of boxes with imagery printed on paper from a Macintosh Quadra 650 computer on Arches paper, hand coloured frontpieces, pictures of Iman in the shower and a story about beastiality or something.
On November 24th Bowie and Iman attended a special showing. Iman was very embarrassed by some of the candid shots, but supposed that we had seen it all before. She even wondered why she should even hide anything these days. Her thoughts on that day :
'I goes into the gallery, and the first thing I sees is picture of me on toilet. I think "Oh great, there is my whole career down tubes". David did some interesting and spooky drawings and writing, but no-one wanted to see that. The place was fulls of perverts.'
David and Iman would spend Christmas at their home on Mustique, Iman finding all of David's cameras and destroying them.