David Bowie "curated his death" with his final album Blackstar and his US musical Lazarus - which he co-wrote with Irish playwright Enda Walsh - according to celebrity portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.
The late musician released his final single, also titled Lazarus, two days before his death. It features lyrics including: "Look up here, I'm in heaven".
"From what I understand, these last 18 months he really curated his death, and the play Lazarus and the album - I just think that's an extraordinary thing he did as an artist, to understand he was dying and put all of himself into that look," Leibovitz said.
Speaking at the launch of her London exhibition, Women: New Portraits, she added: "I felt that he was such a visual creative artist, and I photographed him two or three times just in passing through his career, but we never did a creative sitting.
"When someone that great passes, I just lament that I didn't have that opportunity."
On Monday, Bowie's producer, Tony Visconti, wrote on Facebook: "His death was no different from his life - a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift."
Bowie will be honoured with a tribute at next month's Brit Awards, as well as a memorial concert at New York's Carnegie Hall on March 31.
Blackstar looks certain to hold on to the number one spot in the UK album charts tomorrow.
Three retrospectives of his work and three original albums have all broken into the Top 40.
Figures from streaming service Spotify show there was a jump of 2,822pc in Bowie songs played in the hours after his death was announced.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger were also among the artists who remembered him.
"David was always an inspiration to me and a true original," Jagger said.
McCartney referenced Bowie's music, writing: "His star will shine in the sky forever."