Michael Jackson is literally On the Wall at the National Portrait Gallery


Michael Jackson (does he really need an introduction?) is the subject of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery running until 21 October 2018.

As kitsch as it sounds (and looks), this show doesn’t feature any of Jackson’s memorabilia but rather explores the impact the performer had on other visual artists including Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Paul McCarthy, Catherine Opie, Yan Pei Ming, Rita Ackerman and Isaac Julien to name a few.

One of Jackson’s last commission when he was still alive is Kehinde Wiley’s portrait, Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson), 2010, finished posthumously and which takes centre stage in the exhibition. ‘His knowledge of art and art history was much more in-depth than I had imagined. He was talking about the difference between early and late Rubens’ brushwork.’ – Kehinde Wiley said about Michael Jackson.

For the first time, Michael Jackson: On the Wall brings together the works of almost 50 of these inspired artists, drawn from public and private collections around the world.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London said: ‘All of the artists included in the exhibition – despite coming from different generations, perspectives, and parts of the world, and employing a range of media – are fascinated by what Jackson represented and what he invented.


Image: Interview magazine, September 2009 by KAWS. Photograph: Courtesy of KAWS