David Bowie Allowed His Art to Deliver a Final Message

In the video for David Bowie’s “Lazarus,” released last week, the mythic singer and rock ’n’ roll shape-shifter, ever thin but bordering on gaunt, is blindfolded and writhing in a hospital bed. “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” he sings. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” In the end, a shaking Mr. Bowie retreats backward into a darkened armoire.

Mr. Bowie, who in his 50-year career reimagined the worlds of pop music, art and fashion, told very few people about the cancer that preceded his death on Sunday, at 69, a year and a half after his diagnosis. Even those working closely with him on a sudden burst of new projects were surprised to learn he had been dying.

At the same time, it turns out, he was telling everyone through his art.

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