David Bowie "curated his death" with his final album Blackstar and his US musical Lazarus, according to 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".
Leibovitz said: "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."
Speaking at the launch of her 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: "He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way.
"His death was no different from his life - a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift."
Following his death from cancer at the age of 69, 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 album charts on Friday after it was released on January 8 - Bowie's 69th birthday.
Three retrospectives of his work and three original albums have all broken into the Top 40.
Figures from global streaming service Spotify show there was a jump of 2,822% in Bowie songs played in the hours after his death was announced.
Singer Tina Turner paid tribute to the singer, saying "a piece of my heart has broken".
"Not only was David a passionate supporter of my career but more importantly a very special person in my life. An icon. Irreplaceable loving friend. I am missing him greatly," she said.
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger were also among the artists who remembered him.
Sir Mick said: "David was always an inspiration to me and a true original."
Sir Paul referenced the part Bowie's music has played in British musical history, writing on his blog: "I'm proud to think of the huge influence he has had on people all around the world.
"His star will shine in the sky forever."
Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, who collaborated closely with Bowie, said in a statement: "David Bowie was one of the band's earliest supporters and champions. He not only created the world that made it possible for our band to exist, he welcomed us into it with grace and warmth.
"We will take to the grave the moments we shared - talking, playing music and collaborating - as some of the most profound and memorable moments of our lives."
Madonna dedicated a song to the late musician as she performed in Houston, Texas, as part of her Rebel Heart tour on Tuesday evening.
The 54-year-old covered his 1974 hit, Rebel Rebel, while a montage of images of Bowie flashed up on the screen behind her.
At the end of the song she fell to the floor. Later , the Queen of Pop tweeted: " Paying Tribute to My Favorite Rebel heart!"
After his death was announced on Monday, Madonna wrote: "His music was always inspiring but seeing him live set me off on a journey that for me I hope will never end.
"He was so chic and beautiful and elegant. So ahead of his time ... Thank you David Bowie. I owe you a lot. The world will miss you."