Review: Michael Jackson On The Wall #MJOnTheWall @NPGLondon

To celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th year (his birthday would have been August 29th), National Portrait Gallery has a blockbuster summer exhibition called Michael Jackson On The Wall.

 

Curated by Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan, the exhibition is spread over 14 rooms, each named appropriately like:

  • King of Pop (6)
  • Off The Wall (11)
  • Man in the Mirror (13)

Overall there are over 48 artists are featured including my favorites Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Grayson Perry. While I must admit I was never a huge fan on Michael Jackson (although did have tickets to the first night of what would have been his ‘last concert’), NPG has done a really good job in showing the many layers of Michael Jackson, from personal to professional.

Mr Brainwash

Dr Nicholas 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. ‘

While I agree completely with that statement, I wasn’t always sure where the line from what Michael Jackson would have in his collection and what pieces were in honour of him. It didn’t take away one bit from the exhibition though!

Just like the Barbican’s Basquiat exhibition, there is a definitely something for all age groups however it was wonderful seeing so many young people during the press preview. Luckily every Friday National Portrait Gallery is making 100 £5 tickets to anyone 25 years old and under from 10:00-21:00. It is also unique to see there are 5 ‘Selfie Spots’ throughout the exhibition and 2 spots to scan Michael Jackson’s Top Tracks on Spotify.

Key pieces of the exhibition:

  • The final commissioned portrait of Michael Jackson by Kehinde Wiley (same artist behind Barrack Obama’s famous portrait in Washington DC). Sadly Michael Jackson never saw the piece passing away June 25 2009.
Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley 2010
  • Michael Jackson’s ‘dinner jacket’ by Michael Lee Bush.  The jacket was made by costume designer Michael Lee Bush who worked with Jackson 1995 onwards.  The idea or the design was Jackson’s own.  Bush said ‘Jackson often wore a dinner jacket we made for him when he entertained at Neverland Ranch.’
Michael Jackson Dinner Jacket by Michael Lee Bush
  • Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom’s sculpture.  This was being created as we were at the exhibition but Will Gompertz, BBC Art Editor stated in his review: ‘made out of 20-plus helium-filled balloons that butt up against the ceiling while the ribbons with which they have been tied lead to a pair of penny loafer shoes held up en pointe; balancing in the moment as Jackson did in his famous “freeze” dance move.’

Grayson Perry’s 1995 piece “Sex, Drugs and Earthenware.”  “This is a Chinese Vase in the spirit of punk. I chose an elegant shape and deliberately covered it in images of rock ‘n’ roll, sex and drugs. I was reading a lot of incredibly sexualised American transvestite magazines at the time, so I included a picture of me that I captioned as if it was a perverse lonely-hearts column. [Credit article  © 2009 Jacky Klein]

Grayson Perry’s 1995 piece “Sex, Drugs and Earthenware.”
  • Andy Warhol 1984

Fans of Michael Jackson or just pop culture art will truly enjoy this exhibition.

The exhibition runs from 28 June – 21 October 2018 and is sponsored by BOSS and Sony Music.  There are lots of events (In Conversations, Young People Workshop, Weekend Workshop and more).  Please check out National Portrait Gallery’s website for the full listing and to book tickets.

 

 

 

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