From The Listening Room

La Chambre d’Écoute, René Magritte, 1952

 
 

La Chambre d’Écoute, René Magritte, 1958

 
 

The Listening Room is an oil on canvas painting by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte which is currently part of the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. A later version of the painting (also of the same name) was made in 1958 and is held in a private collection.

Both paintings feature identical (or near-identical) green apples, but place them in different rooms. In the 1952 version, the room has wood flooring and a glass window with white trim. In the 1958 version, this is replaced by a gray brick room with an arched open-air window.

 
 

Ceci n’est pas une pomme, René Magritte, 1964

 
 

The painting highlights a number of themes common in Magritte’s work. Other paintings to prominently feature an apple include The Son of Man (1964), where the apple obscures the face of bowler-hatted man, and This is not an Apple (1964), where an apple is accompanied by the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pomme” (“This is not an apple”). It is also one of many paintings to play with the concept of scale by juxtaposing objects normally of different sizes. In Elective Affinities (1933) an egg is pictured filling a birdcage, in The Tomb of the Wrestlers (1961) a red rose fills a room and in Personal Values (1951–52) common household objects such as a comb, a glass and a bar of soap dwarf the usual furniture in a bedroom.

 

Cover art for the album Beck-Ola (1969)

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Bowie’s Last Supper

Following the “Retirement Gig” on 3 July 1973, Bowie and a handful of friends held a small post-concert party at the Inn On the Park.

The next evening (4th July 1973) Bowie’s retirement party (now known as “The Last Supper”) was held at one of London’s most expensive restaurants – the Café Royal in Regent Street, following frantic last minute calls from MainMan inviting guests to the impromptu party. Word soon spread and large crowds gathered in the streets to watch the celebrities (usually arriving in Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s) enter the restaurant.

The guest list of those who attended was a virtual Who’s Who of top music and film celebrities in London at the time and included: Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, Keith Moon, Lulu, Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Goodies, Cat Stevens, Ringo and Maureen Starr, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Jeff Beck, Lou Reed, Barbra Streisand (she was in London to film a TV special), Ryan O’Neil, Sonny Bono, Elliot Gould, Britt Ekland, Spike Milligan, Hywel Bennet, D.A. Pennebaker and Dr John who supplied the live music for the evening.

The gathering was also a great opportunity for Bowie to celebrate his fame and new friendships with fellow musical heavyweights such as Mick Jagger. But according to biographer Jerry Hopkins (1985) Bowie had reason to be anxious about Mick Jagger’s attendance. Reportedly Jagger had threatened Bowie because he believed that Bowie had put the “make” on his wife Bianca earlier that week. Hopkins even reports that Bowie had wanted to cancel the show because of Jagger’s threats. However, all was made up at the party and Bowie danced with Jagger and briefly kissed both Jagger and Lou Reed when asked to by Mick Rock who was photographing the event.

 
 

Photos by Mick Rock

 
 

“This was at the Cafe Royal in London after the final Ziggy gig at Hammersmith. Lou Reed and Mick Jagger, who’s behind us, came down. I’m not actually kissing him. If you study it, I’m talking into his ear and he’s talking into mine. I’m quite a way over. But it was near enough to a kiss for the press and they all printed it. We were supposed to have been kissing at that time anyway so there was the evidence. No, I think Lou Reed is the last person in the world I’d want to kiss.” – David Bowie (1993)

Not to be outdone Angie Bowie and Bianca Jagger were also seen dancing and embracing that night.

“The Cafe Royal party the next night was a great success, with David at the very top of his form; he was pure charm and gentle friendliness, open and happy and gay. And I must say, I had a wonderful time too. The mood was light, the glitter dazzling, the night bright and beautiful with stars and success and serendipity”. – Angie Bowie (1993)

 
 

Bowie’s Last Supper as illustrated by Mike Allred (Red Rocket 7 issue 4, November 1997)