The Return of the Thin White Duke

10 09 2008

I am absolutely awed when the universe and its sources of inspiration and creation decide to converge on one fantastical point.

Roughly two years ago, Yoshitako Amano was inspired by runway fashion, which somehow led to a beautiful painting featuring two celebrities in a fantastical New York where love can wait for 1000 years.  The story was written by Neil Gaiman and featured in V magazine.

Who were the two celebrities?  David Bowie and his wife Iman. The story is called “The Return of the Thin White Duke”.  I can barely type this information without frothing at the mouth from fangirlness.

I have never had an inkling of this collaboration, and I have no idea how this could have slipped under my radar.  Even though I’ve only gone Bowie-Fanatical in the last 6 months, I’ve been a Gaiman and Amano fan for years.  I simply adored their work together in Dream Hunters (which Matthew got me an autographed version of!).

Information on this collaboration isn’t readily available, as the internet isn’t exactly realiable on chronicling pop culture, fashion or modern art after its reached past “NOW” and has slipped into “THEN”.  I’m sure of course that those with stronger Google-Fu than me can dig up the dirt, and even the scans from the original magazine issues.

Like all of Amano’s work, these paintings are spectacular, larger than life, and would like absolutely fantastic as large scale prints I’m sure.  If only I wasn’t a struggling retail artist who can’t actually afford such art.

The internet will just have to do for the meantime.  Images were found at Amano’s World, and interview excerpts from  Another amazing detail is that Bowie and Iman are wearing actual fashions from the time, like Christian Dior. How absolutely surreal and post modern is this entire concept?

The rest of the images can be found here.

1UP: Tell us about “The Return of The Thin White Duke” project you’re working on with Neil Gaiman.

YA: Pictures of it have appeared in a magazine called “V Magazine.” [Pulls out a copy of a huge fashion magazine, called V”]

1UP: Wow, that’s a giant magazine. Did you meet David Bowie for this?

YA: I haven’t met David Bowie yet, but I did meet his wife, Iman, who accompanies the Duke in these paintings. She’s the queen in New York, because I wanted to make the story about David Bowie coming to the city of New York. Iman is the queen, and she’s waiting for the Duke to rescue her, and she’s been waiting for a thousand years. But when I told that to Iman, she said that in real life that would never happen. [Laughs] She’d never wait that long.

1UP: Is this an ongoing feature, or is it a single event in the magazine?

YA: This is just a prologue for my story, so it’s not completed yet, so it will keep going, but I don’t have a specific timeline as to when it will be done, or when the next issue will appear with the next chapter. The way this one happened, is I did the art and gave them this image, and Neil Gaiman wrote the story around it.

1UP: Are you a big David Bowie fan?

YA: Yes, I am a David Bowie fan, but this didn’t happen just because I’m a fan. The idea came about because all the characters are wearing actual fashion brands, like Christian Dior, which actually exists in real life. I went to see a fashion show, and saw all the models posing in the clothes, which I drew as a sketch, and eventually turned it into a full painting.

1UP: Since your art is so fantastical in nature, was there ever any danger that a designer would get mad that it doesn’t look exactly as it does in real life? Would Dior ever look at your painting and say “My coat doesn’t look like that!”?

YA: Well, the kimonos in this book, I designed. Everything else is designed by Dior. Each contribution is written in the credits, so there was no worry about a conflict.

1UP: Have you ever thought about designing clothes that a fashion house would in turn manufacture and sell?

YA: [Laughs] That’s very interesting. I’m really, really interested in doing that, but if it turns into a business thing, then it involves the whole apparel business, which would make it very difficult. But I am very interested in it, and I wouldn’t mind doing something like that.

1UP: What is it about Neil Gaiman and your working relationship that you like so much? Tell us about what makes that click.

YA: I can communicate with Neil, artistically, we both understand each other’s art, so it’s really a fresh experience for me. And Neil Gaiman is a great writer, but more specifically he creates a warm atmosphere, with a lot of class, and that’s what really appeals to me. And that’s why I feel comfortable working with him. With Sandman, it’s not like I drew the illustrations and Neil then wrote the story. We did it together, it was a real collaboration. I’ve never worked with someone in Japan like that before. Neil was the first.

The rest of the article “A Day in the Life of Yoshitaka Amano” By James Mielke July 2006.




One response

13 10 2008

Simply Amazing Images. Very oriental in feel. Like an 80’s Japanese ad campaign.

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