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David Bowie: The Byronic Man

Charles Shaar Murray, Face, The, October 1984

"WHAT WE'RE DOING here is bringing back the talkies," David Bowie announces self-mockingly. His livid mask recalls the white-faced clowns and demons of the Commedia del' Arte and the grotesque disguises of the early cinema: pallor so extreme as to suggest a powerful but distinctly unhealthy light juxtaposed with swirling, smoky shadows. His amiable but vulpine grin seems thoroughly incongruous in this ghastly setting. The dark, sandy hair is immaculately styled, but it is streaked with an unpleasant-looking gel that suggests that an asthmatic dog has just coughed on his head.

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