Taken by Duffy during the second of Five Sessions with David Bowie – Duffy’s most famous photograph dates from the 1973 and is the iconic and revolutionary cover of David Bowie’s album – Aladdin Sane. A shot that became the defining look of Bowie’s long career, and has been referred to as the “Mona Lisa of pop.”
The defining image of Duffy and Bowie’s creative relationship which has become synonymous with the legacy of both artists. Tony Defries commissioned Duffy Design Concepts to create the entire Aladdin Sane album. The brief was simple – “Can you make it expensive?” The intention was to take Bowie to an international level. Also to make a bill so large that the record label would have to pay attention. A Dye-transfer image was the answer. A process which was notoriously costly, with the production taking place in Switzerland. Duffy carved the iconic red and blue “Flash” across David’s face in lipstick. The outline was then filled in by makeup artist Pierre Laroche. The image was then sent to airbrush artist Philip Castle. Duffy previously worked on the 1973 Pirelli Calendar with Castle who applied the water symbol on Bowie’s chest.
Aladdin Sane Remastered Black & White Negative
In 2010 the Aladdin Sane black and white negative remaster was created by Chris Duffy. This was to coincide with the opening of a Duffy Bowie exhibition in Beverly Hills, California at Stephen Webster Gallery. The image was in such high demand that it was made accessible in an open edition. The image is printed on matte paper further enhancing the depth of the blacks and the effect of the image making it a perfect contrast or companion to the iconic Aladdin Sane.
The Whole Story
The fascinating story behind this timeless session is fully documented in the Duffy Bowie Five Sessions Book told by those who were there. Including Duffy who said of the session – “It happened because there was a little bit of magic in the room that night. I’ll say it myself – it’s a great cover!” Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie ArchiveTM