We were lucky enough to be invited to the opening of the Michael Jackson exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last week, and boy was it fantastic. Here are our thoughts on it, and our favourite pieces to check out.
HB: As we weaved our way through the worlds press to get an early viewing of the amazing new exhibition of art of the King of Pop, I was struck mostly by the way he is almost used like religious iconography(which makes sense as he really is a pop culture icon!). The chronology of his career loosely shown throughout the exhibition was also fascinating as it showed his transition from popular singer into more extravagant global superstar.
JK: What an exhibition! Nothing like what I was expecting from when we’ve seen showcases of other artists, but in fact nonetheless still amazing. Showcasing all the artwork to do with MJ rather than his actual work or music/album covers, was a really interesting way of exploring his reach, fans and legacy. There were some amazing works throughout, such as Michael Gittes’ piece on Michael Jackson moves. When speaking to him he explained how he never normally uses film but couldn’t express his love of Michael Jackson’s movement in a static picture. Makes so much sense. From Grayson Perry, to Gary Hume, David LaChappelle’s iconic pictures to Andy Warhol, the range of art on show is immense. Obviously there are artefacts and album covers, show footage and things you will recognise but it’s done very cleverly. Don’t miss the 2010 HUGE portrait (I mean, you can’t really), or the Candice Breitz tribute.
Our favourite pieces
HB: Keith Haring’s Pop art portrait of MJ was by far my favourite piece! As some of you may know we absolutely adore KH and that era of art, so getting to see this piece up close as it was exhibited for the first time in 30 years was a real treat!
JK: I won’t say the Haring piece because that’s boring, but it was amazing. Perhaps then, the white glove that was used as an invite to a Michael Jackson Thriller party, although that’s not art. Maybe then the Faith Ringgold (artist and activist) quilt, “who’s bad?” Which is on display in the UK for the first time ever and the set of quilts explore African American relations in America.
You can catch Michael Jackson: On the Wall until the 21 October (coinciding with what would have been his 60th birthday this summer), at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s open late on Fridays and I would book ahead. Tickets cost £15 (£9 with an Art Pass) and there are a whole range of talks and events going on that you can find out about on the NPG website here.