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National Portrait Gallery Will Host Landmark Michael Jackson Exhibition

Michael Jackson '1984' by Andy Warhol courtesy National Portrait Gallery

Michael Jackson’s influence on music is undisputed, but what about his impact on contemporary art? The controversial singer and performer, who died aged 50 in 2009, will be the subject of a major exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery next year.

Because not only was he the King of Pop but he also inspired a range of artists across generations and different media. Called Michael Jackson: On the Wall it will open in summer 2018 timed to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday, on 29 August 2018.

Michael Jackson performing on the Bad Tour at the Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, Ohio in October 1988. © Janet Macoska

It’s curated by the gallery’s director Dr. Nicholas Cullinan and will feature essays from Zadie Smith and Margo Jefferson. The gallery said in a statement that while his significance is widely acclaimed in music, music videos, dance, choreography and fashion his influence on  contemporary art is an “untold story”.

'An Illuminating Path 'by David Lachapelle, courtesy of the artist

Cullinan said: “Michael Jackson: On the Wall takes an entirely new and quite radical approach by exploring the cultural impact of a unique figure through contemporary art. All the artists included, despite coming from different generations and parts of the world, and employing a range of media, are fascinated by what Jackson represented and what he invented.”

“It is rare that there is something new to say about someone so famous, but here that is the case. The exhibition breaks new ground for the National Portrait Gallery in its subject matter and the breadth and profile of the artists who have been invited to participate.”

“It will open up new avenues for thinking about art and identity, encourage new dialogues between artists, and invite audiences interested in popular culture and music to engage with contemporary art. Like its subject, we hope this exhibition will be inclusive in appeal, uncompromising in artistic integrity and in the process, break down barriers.”

Michael Jackson performing at Wembley, London in 1972 during the Jackson 5 era. © Jill Furmanovsky

The exhibition will bring together the work of over forty artists from private and public collections, and is being produced with the co-operation of the Michael Jackson Estate. Artists included in the show will be Andy Warhol, who first used Jackson’s image in 1984, along with Isaac Julien, Kehinde Wiley, Grayson Perry, David LaChapelle, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume, and many more.

According to the press release, “The exhibition will not only ask why so many contemporary artists have been drawn to Jackson as a subject, but also why he continues to loom so large in our collective cultural imagination. It will explore the impact and influence of Jackson on contemporary artists and the continued interest in him as a major cultural figure.”

Michael Jackson: On the Wall runs from 28 June to 21 October 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery. Find out more and book tickets here.

Equestrian Portrait Of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to various iconic Michael Jackson images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.