• Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II  by Kehinde Wiley

Michael Jackson, the myth

Would have turned 60 in August: see London's exibithion-event pictures

Almost 10 years on from his death, and in the year during which he would have celebrated his 60th birthday, the National Portrait Gallery in London dedicates an exhibition to Michael Jackson.

Thriller (Black and White) by Graham Dolphin 2017. Courtesy of the artistConsidered one of the most influential cultural icons of the 20th century, his importance has been recognised in the areas of music, video (his video for Thriller is the most famous and acclaimed of all time, considered a real American national treasure, to the extent of being included in the National Film Register of the Library of Congress of the United States), dance, choreography and fashion, although his impact on contemporary art has never previously been explored. Michael Jackson is without doubt one of the most frequently portrayed figures in the visual arts, ever since the first time that Andy Warhol used his image in 1982.

An Illuminating Path by David LaChapelle 1998. Courtesy of the artist © David LaChapelle

700 Nimes Road, Bedside Table by Catherine Opie 2010-11. Courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Catherine Opie
Untitled by

Dangerous by Mark Ryden 1991. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery

MICHAEL JACKSON: ON THE WALL, sponsored by BOSS and Sony Music, explores the reasons why so many artists feel an affinity towards the figure of Jacko, contributing to the growth of his myth and further transforming him into a character of enormous cultural significance.

Interview Magazine, September 2009 by KAWS 2009. Courtesy of KAWS

Michael Jackson’s ‘dinner jacket’ by Michael Lee Bush Date unknown, Courtesy of John Branca. Image © Julien’s Auctions / Summer Evans

Michael Jackson by Andy Warhol 1984. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. / Gift of Time magazine © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

Michael Jackson by Andy Warhol n.d. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Contribution: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. 2001.2.404. ©
2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

The selection includes works by some of the greatest contemporary artists (Keith Haring, David LaChapelle and Andy Warhol, to name just a few) along with others from rising stars of the artistic world, sourced from public and private collections across the globe, and including some works created specifically for the exhibition.
Little else would be required to evoke the memory of Michael Jackson and the impact that his voice and his art have left on the history of world music.

Valentina Monti