Tag Archives: michael jackson

Modern Art Monday Presents: Todd Gray, Euclidean Gris Gris 2

Euclidean Gris Gris 2
Photo By Gail

Todd Gray’s work draws from his archive of photographs amassed during the past forty-five years of his career. Taken in locations from Hollywood to Ghana (where he maintains a studio),  these images have been selected by the artist to explore the complex interrelation of Blackness, diasporic identity, and historic systems of exploitation. For his ongoing series Exquisite Terribleness, begun in 2013, Gray collages photographs into a layered arrangements of thrift store frames, creating compositions of fragmented bodies. Many of the individual photographs that Gray uses for his collages were shot following his own creative visions; others, such as in Euclidean Gris Gris 2 (2018) were commissioned, including many he took as Michael Jackson’s personal photographer in the 1970s and early 1980s. Jackson is significant here for Gray not as a celebrity or figure of controversy, but as a global phenomenon whose almost mythic status serves to frame the complex issues explored in Gray’s work. Michael Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1983 and then tried and acquitted for the crime in 2005. New allegations surfaced in a documentary released on HBO in early 2019.

Photographed as Part of The 2019 Biennial Exhibit at The Whitney Museum, NYC

Michael Jackson Mural By Kobra

Kobra MJ Mural
All Photos By Gail

Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra continues to make the rounds in NYC, but this mural, entitled Black or White, of Michael Jackson’s Face as both a child and an adult actually went up some time ago, in late August of 2018. I have walked by it a bunch of times and that orange food truck is always there, so it’s hard to get a clear shot.

Kobra MJ Close Up

Dead for nearly a decade at this point (as hard to believe as that is) Jackson continues to be a highly polarizing figure, especially in light of the just-aired HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which most definitely lends considerable credence to the child abuse allegations of which Jackson was charged and then famously acquitted. It just makes me sad for everyone involved. I wonder how long it will be now before this mural is painted over.

Michael Jackson Mural By Kobra

Kobra MJ Mural Distance

The Michael Jackson Mural is painted on the side of an apartment building located at the Southeast corner First Avenue and East 11th Street in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson and Bubbles

Michael Jackson and Bubbles
Photos By Gail

In imagining Michael Jackson (19582009) as a contemporary god of pop culture, Jeff Koons draws on long histories of representing mythic figures in sculpture. In Michael Jackson and and Bubbles (1988), the singer cradles his pet chimpanzee, mimicking a Pieta as perhaps a poignant evolutionary take on the composition of a mother and her child. Koons uses the techniques and conventions of traditional Meissen porcelain — a medium often associated with kitsch — on a grand scale, to underscore the mass appeal of his subject. Similarly, the pronounced use of gold signals excess to the point of banality, even as it reflects the brilliance of the megastar in the manner of an Egyptian pharaoh.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body, at The Met Breuer, NYC.

Eye On Design: Michael Jackson’s Metal Cowboy Boots

Michael Jackson Metal Cowboy Boots
All Photos By Gail

Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush, who were Michael Jackson’s longtime costume designers, were asked to create a pair of Metal Cowboy Boots (circa 1990) for Jackson. The designers found inspiration in sabatons, the part of a knight’s armor that protected the foot. The singer wore these boots to the White House in April of 1990 to received the Artist of the Decade award from President George H.W. Bush.

Photographed in the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.

Michael Jackson Metal Cowboy Boots

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Video Clip of The Week: Tame Impala, “‘Cause I’m A Man”



Confession: While I’m not immediately crazy about the fact that Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker has been made to sound like Michael Jackson on this ridiculously amazing tune, the fact that “‘Cause I’m A Man” aurally draws on the dizzily addictive vocal hooks from ’70s soul classics like The Delfonics’ “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time” and The Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow, more than makes up for any perceived slight. Because, Michael Jackson. Geez.

On Tame Impala’s third album, Currents, Parker’s approach to making his version of modern psychedelia boosts the recording quality and accessibility of these tunes while preserving its intelligence and amazing melodic richness, which makes for a sonic transition as profound as when Guided By Voices let Rick Ocasek produce Isolation Drills. If you know what that means, great. If not, it doesn’t matter.

Visually, this highly abstract computer animated  video is simply mind blowing and makes me want to eat handfuls of acid, while also allowing a feeling of vulnerability that something resembling “Romantic Love” is perhaps truly possible. It’s a heavy turn on when men sing about how manly they are, but here Parker puts his heart on the line by confessing his shortcomings as being owed to the fact that he’s, well, just a man. Also, why has no one up to now thought of making an animated video where a Plasma Ball Sphere substitutes for man’s head? I ask yez…

On Currents (says the album’s press release), Kevin Parker “addresses a blindingly colorful panorama of transition in the most audacious, adventurous fashion he’s yet to capture on record. Dense with heady lyrical introspection, musically the most playful, bold and varied Tame Impala record to date, Currents is Parker putting down his weapons and embracing change as the only constant – sonically, thematically, and personally.” Currents is released on July 17th, 2015. Turn on, tune in, trip out. Enjoy!

TAME IMPALA CURRENTS Artwork