Leigh Bowery

Archive Exhibitions (6 May to 2 July 2000)
Leigh Bowery was a performance artist, fashion designer, nightclub sensation, art object, aspiring pop-star and an icon who influenced the music, art film and fashion worlds. As stated by Roger Malbert in the exhibition catalogue published by Hayward Gallery Publ. (2000).
In Britain, the lack of a masked carnival tradition is to some extent compensated for by the gay and fetish club scene where people recreate themselves and parade as outlandishly as any fashionable Regency ‘monstrosity’. The most famous exponent of transgressive masquerade in London in 1980s and early ‘90s was Leigh Bowery, performance artist and costume designer, who performed with the dancer Michael Clark and modelled for Lucian Freud.

The exhibition, designed and installed by his wife Nicola Bateman, was a display of his curious costumes and artefacts. A video film played a sequence of Bowery’s performance at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London in October 1988, while cabinets of his paraphernalia and extravagant clothes hanging from the gallery ceiling challenged conventional perspectives on the meaning of dressing. At the same time, the exhibition acted as a tribute to the memory of one of the most bizarre and genial minds of club culture.

During Brighton Festival, the touring show Carnivalesque, curated by artist and writer Timothy Hyman and organised in partnership with the Hayward Gallery, London and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, presented an exploration of ‘the carnival sense of the world’ in Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day.

About The Artist

Leigh Bowery (26 March 1961 – 31 December 1994) was an Australian performance artist, club promoter, and fashion designer. Bowery was known for his flamboyant and outlandish costumes and makeup as well as his (sometimes controversial) performances.

Based in London for much of his adult life, he was a significant model and muse[1] for the English painter Lucian Freud.

Bowery influenced other artists and designers including Meadham Kirchhoff, Alexander McQueen, Lucian Freud, Vivienne Westwood, Boy George, Mimi Imfurst, Antony and the Johnsons, Lady Gaga, John Galliano, Scissor Sisters, David LaChapelle, Lady Bunny, Acid Betty, Shea Couleé, and Charles Jeffrey plus numerous Nu-Rave bands and nightclubs in London and New York City.

Brighton and hove museum
Hayward gallery


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