Paul Robertson
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Victoria + Albert



THE PERIODIC TABLE OF BOWIE was the last artwork in the Victoria & Albert ‘DAVID BOWIE is’ exhibition.

THE PERIODIC TABLE OF BOWIE is a massive wall work which charts the various influences on the foremost British performer, rock star and actor.

The “Bowie Is” show opened in March 2013 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and ended in July 2018 at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. Over its 5-year run it stopped at 12 museums around the world and attracted over 2 million visitors.

The work was purchased as part of the permanent collection at the V&A in 2013.

Robertson utilises the fact that in the original real chemical periodic table there are ten “families” of elements which react with others in similar ways within each group. Within Robertson’s artistic periodic tables the ten families are used to tease out different aspects of the subject matter in a poetic sense. In this work this was applied to Bowie’s many influences, historic experiences and the people he influenced. There are also hidden relationships within the Table such as a disguised Aladdin Sane lightening flash.

By creating false taxonomies and subjective maps of relationships between ideas and people of note, Robertson creates the illusion of scientific relationships. Periodic Tables, molecules and DNA strands become vectors for a pseudo-scientific mapping of the worlds of celebrity, philosophy, art and music.

Other Periodic Tables (such as the Periodic Table of Art) are available. Contact the artist.


PAUL ROBERTSON (b. 1958, Birmingham, England) is an artist-curator , a well-known avant garde art-dealer and art historian and a popular if provocative art-critic writer and broadcaster as well as an avid art collector. His background in neurophysiology, psychology, politics, and art history allowed Robertson to become an international artist-curator (most recently at Summmerhall, Edinburgh where he curated over 180 exhibitions in two years including shows by some of the world’s leading artists).

His hugely significant collection of avant garde art from 1900 to the present day was until 2014 on show in the Phenotype Genotype exhibition in Edinburgh as was his massive THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ART. After his sudden departure from that museum (a story that made the Scottish media due to its mysterious cause) Robertson moved the archive to Temple in Midlothian and repurposed a former 80s Primary School into a contemporary art gallery called LUST AND THE APPLE. Lust and the Apple has since exhibited many shows including those by Lawrence Weiner, Bruce McLean, Tom Sachs, Micah Lexier, Cisco Jimenez, Jonathan Mink, Paul-Armand Gette, Christian Boltanski and Gregor Schneider amongst others.

Between 2014 and 2018 Robertson was the curator and co-producer of Michael Nyman’s Man with a Movie Camera where Robertson installed a ground breaking multi-view installation which was shown in a number of major cities – including Miami, Mexico City, Istanbul, Philadelphia and Boston – to great critical acclaim.

Other initiatives by Robertson includes presenting younger Scottish and other artists in curated shows in Europe and America – support for emerging artists being a passion that Robertson has shown an energetic commitment to.


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