On the Wall
Michael Jackson, one of the most successful recording artists of all time, also has the distinction of being the most depicted cultural figure; an inspiration for an extraordinary array of leading artists – from Andy Warhol and Isa Genzken to David Hammons and Glenn Ligon – working in a variety of styles and media. This book, which accompanies a major exhibition, examines their artistic responses to an enduring international icon and features essays by Margo Jefferson and Zadie Smith. Michael Jackson (1958–2009) is certainly one of the most influential cultural figures of the last fifty years. Almost a decade after his death, Jackson’s impact shows no signs of diminishing: his record sales, now well into the hundreds of millions, continue to grow, his videos are still watched and his enormous fan base remains loyal to his memory. Alongside his lingering influence as a recording artist, the questions that surrounded his fame, success, race and gender during his lifetime remain an indelible aspect of his legacy. Coinciding with what would have been Jackson’s sixtieth birthday in 2018, this book will be published at a moment when his cultural significance and the many complex issues it raises will be reassessed and made newly relevant. Nicholas Cullinan and his co-authors ask why so many contemporary artists have been drawn to Jackson as an image and a subject, and also why he continues to loom so large in our collective cultural imagination. In addition to existing works spanning several different generations of artists and across all media, the book features several new portraits by major artists commissioned especially for this unique project. Like Jackson himself, this innovative book will simultaneously have mass appeal and raise complex and thought provoking questions.