In 2001, award-winning international fashion / celebrity photographer Markus Klinko spent 8 hours in his New York studio with David Bowie shooting images for David's "Heathen" album cover.
On the strength of this body of work, Markus was asked in 2002 to create the cover image for GQ‘s “Man of the Year” issue honouring David. The resulting image shows the rock star fearlessly posing with a pack of wild wolves.
The images from the sessions have been released as the "Bowie Unseen" series.
"When photographing an artist, I always desire to create a work that truly defines them and can serve as a milestone in pop culture history. Those are ambitious and lofty goals, but it is what I am thinking about when I pick up my camera." ~ Markus Klinko
Markus met David Bowie just days before 9/11, at his New York studio, where David attended an editing session to help select images for his wife Iman. The legendary super model had hired Markus to create the cover for her book "I AM IMAN". A few minutes into the session, David turned to Markus, and offered him to shoot the cover art of his upcoming album, "Heathen".
The tragic events of 9/11 delayed the scheduling of the shoot for "Heathen", but David stayed true to his word, and the shoot took place on October 10th, 2001.
While the album photographs quickly attracted the attention of such artists as Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, these works also helped launch Markus' illustrious fine art career.
"David Bowie, Heathen", 2001
This moving shot of David Bowie is from Markus' photo session for the cover of "Heathen", released in 2002. When asked about why David wanted to be shot as a blind man Markus explained:
"It was his [David's] idea. What he tried to bring across with this artwork was a man who lost belief, a man who no longer believes in the rules of religion, politics, all of that. His blind eyes represent his loss of belief, no longer being on track with what you’re supposed to believe.
"For the actual album cover image, he has strong references based on Man Ray. He showed me Man Ray images. He took a selfie in his bedroom before our shooting session that he was proud of. We used it for the initial setup. It was planned for that shot, he wanted it to look exactly how he wanted it.
"I helped him achieve that. He said: “you have me until 5pm and you can do whatever you want.” So, I had time to bring my own ideas to the table, but his main album cover was very precise."
Source: "Markus Klinko on Bowie Unseen" by Nadja Sayej, Vanity Fair, 2019
Released in 2002, "Heathen" is the 23rd studio album by David Bowie.
"David Bowie, The Studio", 2001
"[David] is one of the very few celebrities that I have worked with who personally got involved, and was extremely communicative and very hands-on in the process. He asked if I could come over to a Broadway recording studio and listen to some tracks. I went over the next day. I wandered around the old, understated recording studio to find Bowie and his producer, Tony Visconti, in one of the rooms.
"Bowie said he wanted to play some of the songs for me before discussing the album art. The mental image of Bowie sitting by a window, smoking cigarettes while his producer played the rough mixes from the board, is a memory I can't forget. After listening to almost the entire album together, we started talking about the shoot. He had many ideas and was very precise about them." ~ Markus Klinko
Source: "How we photographed David Bowie with wild wolves" by Markus Klinko, GQ Magazine, 2002
GQ's Man Of The Year
"David Bowie, The Protector", 2002
"GQ magazine called me and said, 'We decided that David will be our 'Man of the Year.' Can you do another shoot?' So, I call David and he said, 'There's no way, I have no time.' I had an idea. I told (GQ) that there were so many unused images from this photo shoot, and that I could (make) a very elaborate photo montage where I would involve wild animals. They said, 'We love it, but is Bowie gonna be OK?' So, I call David back and he says, 'Absolutely. Go for it.'
"I just thought that the wolf represented David the most - not too bombastic, like tigers and leopards.” ~ Markus Klinko
Source: "Beyoncé, Bowie and Britney: Celebrity photographer Markus Klinko shares his on-set secrets" by Zoe Sottile, CNN, 2019
GQ's Man Of The Year, October 2002
To see more of "Bowie Unseen" check out our latest online exhibition:
Markus Klinko: Bowie Unseen
Date: 9th December 2022 - 28 February 2023
Time: At Your Leisure
Place: Wherever you are
Bring: Popcorn, chocolate and cocktails
Where: 3D Gallery 👉 Markus Klinko: Bowie Unseen
Award-winning international fashion/celebrity photographer and director, Markus Klinko