June 29, 2018
From a bell-bottomed child prodigy performing in lockstep with his siblings to a gaunt recluse marred by scandal and addiction, Michael Jackson left behind no shortage of indelible images by which he can be remembered.
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
But instead of highlighting Jackson's image-making prowess, "Michael Jackson: On the Wall," a new exhibition at London's National Portrait Gallery, is focusing on how the contemporary artists have observed and immortalized him over the course of his lifetime. With works that offer diverse, complex and often personal interpretations of the entertainer, the gallery explores the role he continues to play in pop culture history, even nine years after his death.
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
"Such an extraordinary array of artists has been drawn to Michael Jackson as a subject," said Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery and the exhibition's curator. "This exhibition is not about his biography or memorabilia. It's about looking at him through the prism of contemporary art."
Of the 48 artists featured, only a handful, including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, David LaChapelle and Todd Gray, his former staff photographer, knew Jackson personally. Warhol, whose work with and about Jackson fills a dedicated room at the exhibition, places him firmly within the context of other mythologized cultural icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
In a series of three pieces completed after Jackson's death, LaChapelle depicts him as a Biblical figure, posed as Michael the Archangel atop a defeated Satan and as Jesus in a tropical pieta. Gray's mixed media work incorporates juxtaposes intimate photographs of Jackson from the 1970s and '80s with portraits of black families living ordinary lives.
Others observe him from a distance. In some instances, this means reflecting on the role he plays in memories of their youth. British painter Dawn Mellor contributed a series of drawings she made as a child in the 1980s, while Graham Dolphin meticulously transcribed every lyric from Jackson's entire song catalog over the "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" album art as a meditation on fandom.
There are pieces within the exhibition that provide insight into how Jackson saw himself, too. "Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson)," a large-scale painting by Obama portraitist Kehinde Wiley, was the last work of art commissioned by Jackson himself before his death. It features the singer as the Spanish monarch on horseback, a pose lifted from a 17th-century oil painting by Peter Paul Rubens.
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
The artwork for Jackson's 1991 album "Dangerous," for which Jackson commissioned painter Mark Ryden, hangs a few rooms over and incorporates the likeness of PT Barnum alongside references to revered artists like Hieronymus Bosch and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
But not every depiction is flattering. American artist Jordan Wolfson grappled with the darker side of Jackson's legacy. His piece "Neverland" (2001) whites out everything but Jackson's eyes in a 1993 video clip of the singer denying child molestation allegations, to haunting effect.
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Margo Jefferson, whose 2006 book "On Michael Jackson" examined the entertainer's rise and fall, and the cultural significance of both, believes such a nuanced examination of Jackson's impact on art is only possible now that time has passed since his death.
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
"The content of the life that was controversial, disturbing, unsettling, can be looked at separately, which you really couldn't do while he was alive," Jefferson, who contributed to the exhibition catalog, said in a phone interview.
"Death always allows a certain return to passions and also a certain move into a kind of critical analysis. Now, critics, writers and other artists can look at the work, which is so incredibly well-documented, and say, 'What can I learn from this?'"
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
Cullinan hopes visitors will come away with an understanding that there may not be only one answer to that question.
"The big takeaway is how one person could mean so many different things to all these different people," he said. "It's the realization that my idea of Michael Jackson is not necessarily right or wrong, and it could be very different from someone else's."
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
American artist and critic Lorraine O'Grady, whose diptychs position Jackson along the likeness of French poet Charles Baudelaire, suggests his enduring legacy in the art world may be his articulation of an artist's responsibility.
"When Michael died, I was trying to figure out, why was I crying like he was a member of my family when I was a Prince fan?" O'Grady said. "The more I understood about Michael, the more I realized the only person I could compare him to was Charles Baudelaire."
O'Grady acknowledges that, while both Jackson and Baudelaire experimented with makeup and played with notions of sexuality, their most significant shared trait was embodying the same exalted idea about the role an artist should play.
"(Jackson) felt that he was capable of uniting the entire world through music," she said. "No one ever again could have an ambition like that unironically."
Michael Jackson through the eyes of worlds top artists
This drive may be key to understanding why so many contemporary artists return to Jackson as a subject. "The amazing thing," O'Grady added, "is how fully he accomplished that goal."
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
'Flee' Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen on How Animation Made it Easier to Revive the Past in his Film
December 07, 2021
o6R6N_vTjaY
BTS Sends a Heartfelt Message Via Video At Variety Hitmakers
December 06, 2021
4XBexjgWaxQ
VIP+ Exchange: The Future of Addressable Advertising
December 02, 2021
la03aixkBq0
Bennifer's Courtside Date Night Is A Slam Dunk | E! News
December 08, 2021
scJyrvw9pvY
Is Khloé Kardashian Finally Done With Tristan Thompson? | Daily Pop | E! News
December 08, 2021
DpQ9cbNgv6M
"Don't Look Up" Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyler Perry & More | Daily Pop | E! News
December 08, 2021
RgUba8JoLJU
TMZ’s TOP STORIES OF THE DAY
December 08, 2021
93CuJwz8fnM
Today in TMZ History: Juice WRLD’s Tragic Death
December 08, 2021
h0qPhpkscK4
Pete Davidson, Machine Gun Kelly Strip Down to Undies, Joke About Their Junk | TMZ TV
December 08, 2021
G9UpRN3YGPM
Khloé Kardashian: ‘I’m barely in my own body’ amid Tristan Thompson paternity drama | Page Six
December 08, 2021
_2C3fsP-xf0
Faith Hill looks unrecognizable on magazine cover with Tim McGraw | Page Six Celebrity News
December 08, 2021
ALPo_VSizCQ
Wendy Williams not returning to her talk show in early 2022 | Page Six Celebrity News
December 08, 2021
kyLttbsj4AI
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.