Most influential artists of past 50 years are named

Entertainment

David Bowie has been named Britain’s most influential artist of the last 50 years for his ability to transcend music, film and fashion.

The Starman musician topped the Sky Arts list of 50 influential artists ahead of 12 Years A Slave Oscar-winning filmmaker Sir Steve McQueen, and It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies, who revived Doctor Who in 2005.

Musicians including the Spice Girls, Sir Elton John, Stormzy and Boy George were among those featuring, alongside actors Michaela Coel and Steve Coogan.

Street artist Banksy also made an appearance in the list, as did filmmaker Sir Ridley Scott and fashion designers Alexander McQueen and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS ENTERTAINMENT)
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The Spice Girls made the top 50
Steve Coogan
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As did Steve Coogan

Comedians Ricky Gervais and Victoria Wood also appear alongside artist Tracey Emin and Skin, lead singer of rock band Skunk Anansie, who was Glastonbury’s first black British headliner in 1999.

The list recognises renowned artists across the categories of visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, music, film and TV.

Sir Steve McQueen, with his mother Mary, after he was made a Knight Bachelor by the Princess Royal during a investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Picture date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
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Sir Steve McQueen was knighted in March this year

The judging panel, led by broadcaster and DJ Lauren Laverne, were challenged by TV channel Sky Arts to create the list and crowned Bowie for his ability to transcend a variety of mediums.

More on David Bowie

Influential and revered

Laverne said: “I was honoured to be chosen to take part in this judging day for Sky Arts, as working with such a respected group of judges, I knew their conversations would be fascinating, and they were.

“The judges took so much time and care with their scoring to ensure the Top 50, Top 20 and Top 10 lists were truly the best of the best in terms of influence, and the final list are artists that are so deserving of their places.

“David Bowie coming in at number one was the cherry on top of a brilliant judging process, and it was great to be a part of it.”

Bowie, one of the most influential and revered musicians of the 20th century, died with liver cancer on 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday.

A woman leaves a bouquet at a mural of David Bowie in Brixton, south London
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A woman leaves a bouquet at a mural in tribute to Bowie after his death

A unique portrait of the singer-songwriter has been made from more than 8,500 individually placed guitar plectrums – each featuring a cut-out shape to symbolise all the artistic disciplines Bowie influenced.

Artist Joe Black, who created the two-metre tall piece, said: “This portrait was created to celebrate David Bowie being named the most influential artist of the last 50 years.

Artist Joe Black adds the finishing touches to a portrait of David Bowie made from over 8500 guitar plectrums, commissioned by Sky Arts to celebrate Bowie topping the list of Britain's 50 most influential artists of the last 50 years . Issue date: Thursday August 11, 2022.
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Joe Black’s innovative new portrait of David Bowie made from more than 8500 guitar plectrums

“His visual representation had a huge impact across all of the arts worldwide.

“The idea was to use thousands of specially designed plectrums, with each design representing one of the five artistic areas of Bowie’s creative life and influences – music, film, fashion, literature and art.

“Bowie was a maverick and a global icon who initiated a new Bowie era in popular culture.”

Philip Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts, said: “As our number one artist, we wanted to honour David Bowie in a way that would feel fitting to the scale of his influence.

“The artwork that has been created by Joe Black honours the ways Bowie’s influence transcends genres, through guitar picks with cut-out designs of music, art, stage and screen.”

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