Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973
by Mick Rock (photographer)
2016, 300 pages, 10.8 x 15 x 1.2 inches
When I asked Taschen’s PR person for a review copy of the hardback edition of Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 (after sheepishly asking in vein for the $800 Limited Edition), she warned me that it was an amazingly impressive object, even by Taschen standards. Don’t laugh, but this intimidated me to the point where, after receiving the book, I waited over a week to look inside. I had damn-near passed out while first perusing the uncompromising art publisher’s recent Blake book.
Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 is about as woozying of a tome as you’re ever going to stick your nose into. And this “regular” edition, available at Amazon for the remainder-bin price of under $45, is anything but regular. Every single aspect of this book is elevated. The cover sports a lenticular panel which contains five iconic Mick Rock images of everyone’s favorite glam commander. This could have gone horribly wrong, too gimmicky or tacky, but this technology seems to have been invented to flash the ever-changing personas of David Bowie at the height of his (and Rock’s) artistic powers. There is no more perfect cover for this book.
And that’s just the cover. I was right to psych myself up. The first time I went through it, I got about 20 pages in and had to stop. The book is a sensual flood of uncompromising print materials, meticulous photographic reproductions, and state-of-the-art printing and binding. The smell of the this book is also worth noting (if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s intoxicating.
The content of Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 is almost entirely photographs. There is an essay on Bowie’s rise in the early '70s and an interview with Mick Rock on working with Bowie, but otherwise, the majority of the 300 outsized pages are devoted to full-bleed photos, often paired with a Bowie quote, lyric, or statement about him. Nearly half of the images are rare or never before seen.
Bowie once said that Mick Rock could “see him.” I found the clarity of that vision, captured here in such a high-energy, high-definition presentation, to be literally breathtaking. You really do get the feeling that you are seeing a very rare and intimate relationship between an artist and his muse, chronicled by perhaps the one person who could see actually see and understand that relationship as it was unfolding.