What’s compelling about the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the MCA is not necessarily his music, as relevant as it remains these many years later, nor, dear god, his paintings, which rise at times to the level of derivative. Rather it is the entirety of his expression of himself as a public figure, as a pop artist who both absorbed cultural influences and created them simultaneously. But Bowie’s not even in the same league as the late Beatle John Lennon—who was known to doodle an artwork himself (he dropped out of art school for rock ‘n’ roll). No need for us to attempt to make our case for Lennon’s artistry beyond his songcraft; just let a few images play: “More popular than Jesus,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” Yoko Ono, John and Yoko’s full frontal nudity on the album cover of “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins,” Mark David Chapman. Now imagine.
Audience Choice: Mick Jagger, Bjork (TIE)
Best of Chicago 2014