Contemporary art USA

The work the King of Pop commissioned but never saw

Artist Kehinde Wiley unveils monumental portrait of Michael Jackson in Miami Beach

Kehinde Wiley’s monumental commissioned portrait of Michael Jackson is being unveiled this week at Deitch Projects (F1). The 32-year-old US painter was contacted by Jackson in 2008 after the performer saw the artist’s work at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. “I was receiving messages saying Michael Jackson wants to reach you...and I ignored them because quite honestly I thought it was a prank,” said Wiley. After a friend verified the request, Wiley set up a conference call with the performer, which he taped and transcribed. According to the artist: “He was also very curious about my personal story and surprisingly he was really knowledgeable about art and art history. I’ve done very few commissioned works, so we made arrangements to have certain art historical books sent to him, and he would send me back his preferred pieces.” Wiley’s studio was in the process of making arrangements for a formal sitting when they received news that the singer had died on 25 June; Wiley never received Jackson’s selection of imagery. The portrait is a compilation of six paintings, including works by David and Rubens. When asked why he felt obliged to complete the work, Wiley said: “Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much input as I would have hoped for, but I think it’s something he would have been proud of. Michael was an extraordinarily talented person with a team who could realise his ideas as much as his performances, and I think that his idea of collaborating with me was something that he really wanted to see through…I felt a responsibility to him to get it done.”

More from The Art Newspaper

Comments

24 Jun 10
16:53 CET

JOHN BRIGHT, LONDON

Michael Jackson fans should see the solid silver statue of him by artist Billa Dhand at his website www.billadhand.com

6 Jan 10
15:12 CET

ANONYMOUS, NEWYARK

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. Alisha http://sketchingdrawing.com

11 Dec 09
21:15 CET

MARINA, NOVOSIBIRSK

Michael - the most tremendous person on light! The most talented, kind, beautiful. It is very a pity that has left from us so early. Thanks you for all. We will remember you eternally. I love you.

11 Dec 09
21:15 CET

VERA, MAGNITOGORSK RUSSIA

Michael, you in the music forever, you will live eternally in our hearts! You in this world have not been understood, but were indulgent to people at whom the brain is no more a walnut! You forgave, and for it God spared you an eternal life! All we are under god, to everyone it will be rewarded according to the deserts! Continue in the same spirit, it is not enough you hurricanes, tornadoes, Vietnam, Iraq, on September, 11th, J. Bush junior...

11 Dec 09
6:46 CET

BELLA, PORTLAND

A great painting of the most incredible artist Michael Jackson by a wonderful artist Wiley. The negative comments posted here only show how ignorant and mindless people are. My God you need to open your minds, think for yourselves after you learn the true facts and not believe every little scrap of lies you read! Michael Jackson gave much more to this world than he ever received back. Every word that is sharp as a knife plunges into those of us that truly appreciated him. Shame on you! The man is gone, can he and his children have a bit of dignity and respect? Oh too easy to hide behind your keyboard and call out names like an immature child. Whatever... Mister Wiley I bow to you for such a beautiful painting of my favorite person! This is an amazing piece of artwork! Thank you!

11 Dec 09
6:53 CET

HILARY, LEEDS

Why so much scorn and disdain? Michael Jackson was a human being and loved and admired by many. I have never read of Michael sneering at anyone and it is painful to read these abusive comments about him. He was a black man who dared to be successful. Is that what rankles? He's dead. Leave him alone.

10 Dec 09
14:16 CET

LISA, NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA

Michael IS King and he didn't die. This pucture shows Michael as He is - Angel.

9 Dec 09
15:9 CET

OLGA, ALMATA

Michael,you were so far and so close. Ingenious and unique. We love, we remember, we grieve. But we try to smile. Because you so loved smiles. You the King for ever

9 Dec 09
15:8 CET

KIRA, KIEV

Michael Jackson not simply most presented and brilliant talent among actors of all times and the people it also the surprising person under the internal maintenance, the great humanist, the true aristocrat of spirit. It a true example of the higher humanism and kindness, originality of talent, that what should be the present person both for present and for the future generations. Michael I love you. MJJ you the best.

8 Dec 09
21:3 CET

YANA, YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA

Michael was, is and will be The Only King of music, love and life always! Russia loves You! You are the Essence of Light!

8 Dec 09
21:3 CET

LARISSA, RUSSIA

We love you Michael. Yesterday, today and forever

8 Dec 09
16:40 CET

EVGENIYA, VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA

Great man with unique talent and angel's heart. King of POP for ever and ever. Love you, dear Michael.

8 Dec 09
14:59 CET

TANYA, MOSCOW

Michael Is A King - how very true! Bright, beautiful man looking down at everyone who are jumping around him like midgets. Let them, they'll never take you down from your throne.

8 Dec 09
14:59 CET

MILENA, KAZAN

Michael Jackson Korol of all times and the people!!!! I love you, I miss. The world has become empty without you, darling Michael!!! Your songs always with me!

7 Dec 09
15:44 CET

SEAN, TORONTO / MIAMI

Kehinde, Great piece, very in context and right on the mark as for the rendering on which approach he would most likely have chosen. Bravo, bravo, bravo... And, to all the negative comments posted. Bravo for showcasing the absurd levels of bigotry, racism, homophobia and outright cave man knowledge of art history that you all possess. You can know get back to your Homer Simpson lives...lol. Sean :)

4 Dec 09
16:51 CET

ARTHUR WANKLE, LONDON

OK, its clearly ridiculous, but at least this painting has a sense of humour. Unlike the comments posted above. If we consider the image for a minute away from the art context it seems like a piece of typical Wacko Jacko presentation. He collaborated closely in the production of this portrait, discussing art history with the artist, with whom he exchanged books. It is an essay in Baroque portraiture, quoting from Van Dyke, Rubens and others. Although it is mainly postmodern, sub Koons Pop. But unlike Koons’s Michael Jackon and Bubbles, this is as much the work of MJ as it is Wiley’s. It is typical of Jackson’s approach, cleverly collaborating with producers to realise his vision. Perhaps its not a great work for a painter, hoping to be taken seriously at the most important art show in the US. But this is not the work of a serious painter. It is the work of the ‘king of pop’. And perhaps we should stop taking it so seriously and start giving Jackson the credit he deserves.

4 Dec 09
16:51 CET

CAROLOINE JOHNSON, MANCHESTER

Shite! Not just an extremely poor painting but an extension of Jackson's own sad self- mythologising. And if you're painting a composite picture, at least the light source should be constant- note it's from the left on the leg and from the right on the face.

3 Dec 09
20:11 CET

TAMARA, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Michael, Mediocrity seeks to lower the great. But whatever they write about you, whichever bullsh*t they repeat like parrots, whichever portraits of you they paint, you are and always will be at the height they are unable even to see. You are the one and the only - Michael Jackson. Great man with a unique talent and a most delicate heart. With L.O.V.E. from Russia.

3 Dec 09
18:16 CET

SVETLANA, MOSCOW RUSSIA

Vivat King!Vivat King Michael!!

3 Dec 09
17:24 CET

SONANBUILE RONDOLET, PARIS, TOKYO, NEW YORK

You're so good you should join the 2010 Facebook Biennale: http://tinyurl.com/fbb2010

3 Dec 09
17:24 CET

SUPER-DILLETANTE, MIAMI

trolling pop culture for rotting carrion to feed to the facelifted walking dead !

3 Dec 09
3:58 CET

UNIMPRESSED IN COWTOWN, FORT WORTH, TX

This reminds me of those commercials where a guy with a chocolate bar crashed into a guy with peanut butter... viola'.. REECE'S! Wiley's a cut-n-paste copyist.. nothing more. I take that back... this face doesn't even come close to what Jackson looked like. I think it's a Hispanic chick I went to high school with. What astounds me is how Wiley has managed to worm his way into a few museums... including The Modern in Ft. Worth. So next to Pollock, Warhol, Rothko, Kline, Picasso.. you have this guy? What next, Thomas Kinkade at the Met? Where are the critics? Where's the outrage? This is lowbrow-ism run amuck.. legitimized by museums that should be ashamed. This isn't the way to broaden your audience. Rather it's multicultural dumbing down art in order to impress school kids on their field trips. I've seen one of these up close and in person (yawn). Koons did Jackson.. Wiley's worse than Koons.. "more litter on the earth." To his credit, at least he is actually painting.

3 Dec 09
2:34 CET

CAROL FABRITIUS, DELFT, HOLLAND

If this masterpiece ever gets put on display someplace, it should be accompanied by some nice music: a merry-go-round calliope tune, such as, Smoke Gets In My Eyes, or Little Boy Gets in My Bed, or Nose Falls Off My Face, or something appropriate.

3 Dec 09
1:53 CET

PETER SAUNDERS, POOPICK, NEW JERSEY

Great picture. Charles V's armour, a horse stolen from a merry go round in Central Park, god knows where the wig came from,and is that a sword in a sheath or an enema device? And those angels -- where they from? Correggio? Raphael? Rubens? Jacob van Spreeuwen? The total effect is just -- it's just, it's -- a total piece of crap.

3 Dec 09
1:33 CET

ANDREW WASHTON, NEW YORK CITY

What a piece of shit. That would go great in the freak house in any amusement park.

3 Dec 09
0:42 CET

PAUL, ST. LOUIS

His gallery or the artist felt an obligation to cash in on MJs death more likely. I do not blame them in this economy. This painting would go well with Jeff Koons sculpture of MJ with Bubbles.

2 Dec 09
23:29 CET

GEORGE MICHAEL, NEW YORK

This is fucking stupid...it really is...

2 Dec 09
23:4 CET

GEOFFREY, SANTA FE

I agree with Greg!

2 Dec 09
20:29 CET

STINGRAY, STATE COLLEGE

I concur...

2 Dec 09
20:29 CET

STINGRAY, STATE COLLEGE

Seriously?!? This guy is a freak... I'm surprised he didn't draw Jackson looking the other direction.

2 Dec 09
20:1 CET

GREG, NYC

It's awful

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.

Email*
 
Name*
 
City*
 
Comment*
 

Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email letters@theartnewspaper.com

 

Comments

It's awful...

Share this