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Article

Cyberspace Oddity

David Bowie may be afraid of Americans, according to his current single, but he’s not afraid of the Internet.

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After premiering the song “Telling Lies” on his website last September (nearly five months before it was available in stores) and cybercasting a Boston concert in October, the Thin White Duke of URL is now moving his art onto the Web. On his site (www.bowieart.com) visitors can purchase limited-edition lithographs of two of his paintings.

Bowie’s cybergallery features “Dhead V,” a self-portrait, as well as “Head of J.O.,” a painting of his sometimes collaborator Iggy Pop (whose real name is James Osterberg). Each work can be purchased for $80 to $110 (unsigned) or $240 to $320 (signed).

In case you’re wondering, the musician’s sideline career as a painter isn’t just a method-acting holdover from his role as Andy Warhol in 1996’s “Basquiat.” Over the years, galleries have exhibited Bowie’s art in London, Florence and Basel, Switzerland, among other cities. This year he’ll have a major show at the Marconi Gallery in Milan.

“I want to reach a wide spectrum of people,” Bowie has said about his art/online venture. “The Internet is the way to get the attention of people who may not have access to my gallery shows.” In other words, what you save on plane fare to Milan can now go toward art by The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Ever pioneering as a rock musician, Bowie is breaking new ground in art commerce too. “Dealing over the Web is definitely where things are going,” says one New York private art dealer, “but I don’t know of anyone else doing it yet.”

The dealer also cautions that buyers should use common sense when shopping on the Internet: Purchasing lithographs, prints and photographs over the Web may be fine, he says, because they’re produced in multiples, which gives them a uniform quality. But when it comes to one-of-a-kind paintings and sculptures, no true art aficionado would make a purchase without first judging the work in person.