MAN IN THE MIRROR: London’s National Portrait Gallery is taking a look at the life and work of Michael Jackson with an exhibit marking what would have been the singer’s 60th birthday on Aug. 29. The show, which is sponsored by Hugo Boss and Sony Music, opens on June 28 and will run until Oct. 21 before moving to Paris.
“Michael Jackson: On the Wall” explores the lingering influence of Jackson’s music — and his cultural persona — on contemporary artists and their works. It features photographs, installations, paintings and works by 40 artists including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, David LaChapelle and Grayson Perry. There is a graffiti-style portrait of Jackson by Haring, as well as a large-scale work by artist Graham Dolphin. It’s made from vinyl covers from Jackson’s 1982 “Thriller” album.
“When the National Portrait Gallery told us that this artwork was included, it was a no-brainer for us to work with them because, on the cover [of the Thriller album], Michael is wearing the iconic Hugo Boss white suit,” said Hjödis Kettenbach, head of global communications at Hugo Boss. “It’s amazing to have this connection to him,” she said.
Boss will also release a revamped, slim-fit edition of the white suit, which cemented the King of Pop as a style icon. Boss will only issue 100 individually numbered pieces of the new suit. The brand will also release a limited-edition capsule of three unisex T-shirt styles. Each T-shirt will feature a graphic print of a significant moment in the pop star’s career.
These moments catalyzed many of the installations. In one room, a pair of shoes has been suspended by balloons, with only the toes touching the ground — recalling Jackson’s inimitable dancing style. One room has been dedicated to Warhol’s time capsule including keepsakes of the singer such as a Rolling Stone magazine with Jackson on the cover.
An entryway has been formed by a blown-up version of the singer’s “Dangerous” album cover by Mark Ryden. It leads viewers into the final, multimedia room. There is a video edited by Rodney McMillian showing clips of emotional concertgoers in New York. Another video by Michael Gittes shows footage from the “Smooth Criminal” segment in the Jackson video portrait “Moonwalker.”
“He influenced so many people in society and fashion, and when our design team saw the original white suit, they were really touched. Very often you will see something in fashion and you can pick out elements that he brought to the mainstream,” Kettenbach said. “Even now, I’ll become inspired and influenced and realize afterwards that it’s from Michael, he’s always just in the back of my mind.”