As one of the most recognized people who has ever lived, Michael Jackson has had a lifetime of visuals dedicated to him. His image as a musician spanned the globe, but it also made him a prominent figure in choreography, fashion, and as a social advocate. His significance within the visual art world has become a lesser known exploration. However, a new worldwide showcase that began at the National Portrait Gallery in London focuses on this very idea. Unlike other pop-star exhibitions however, Michael Jackson: On The Wall not only presents the numerous examples of visual art dedicated to the star, but explores the entire nature of his fame, his worldwide influence, and the long lasting effects of his existence in culture today.
The exhibition features work of forty-eight prominent artists from all over the world, including Faith Ringgold, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Hank Willis Thomas, and specifically Andy Warhol. It explores themes such as portraiture of the iconic man, imitative fan artwork that resonate heavily with "hero worship", and universal acknowledgement and fame. In a world where even in death, content can be consumed, Jackson's figure, among multi levels of media, offers a complicated and versatile view of the man himself. Taken from the perspective as observer, in both fandom and not, the exhibition attempts to construct a comprehensive viewpoint of the man. Some work was made during his life, while others were created specifically for this show. However, no one artist is featured more than Andy Warhol. A self-obsessed fan of Michael Jackson, Warhol's images of the man are given an entire room
Although the subject remains the same, the artists' choice of perspective, material, and focus reveals just how complicated this man's image is within our greater society. He is recognized for so many things, that harnessing him from all angles becomes a requirement. In doing so, the artists celebrate Jackson, but also relatively discuss negative aspects of his career, the gossip that fuels any pop culture figure to their death, notably his sexual assault charges. This noteworthy aspect of his life obviously resonates heavily with the modern day #MeToo campaigns and subtly parallels the other questions that fuel this exhibition. Do accolades remembered in death overshadow actions in life? As such a complicated figure of popular culture, Michael Jackson will always be remembered for his influence and innovation of music internationally, but his veritable status was rife with trauma, scandal, and untold rumors.
This exhibition's aim in exploring the multifaceted man successfully engages his image from an international perspective, only further validating his worldwide fame and influence. This versatile showcase is now currently at the Grand Palais in France, but will be moving to Bundeskunsthalle in Germany and finally to Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland.
Title Image: Gary Hume, Michael, 2011. Courtesy of Spruth Magers and Matthew Marks.
Art museum visitors usually adhere to a certain set of rules while attending exhibitions; keep your voices low and do not touch the artwork. However, upon visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, attendants might encounter a very different space. As a part of their Fringe Festival, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invited a performance group to showcase the art in a new light. New York-based Monica Bill Barnes & Company has thus created The Museum Workout. Previously a program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monica Bill Barnes & Company were invited to create a new program for this specific space. With oldies hits blaring through the intercom system, the participating attending group, led by Artistic Director Monica Barnes and Associate Director Anna Bass, in glittering dresses and running shoes, jog through the gallery space, past masterworks by Titian, Matisse and Picasso. The Museum Workout stops at certain works to do squats and lunges, leading them through a 45 minute workout that doesn't necessarily act as a traditional tour.
Although the interactive performance takes place within the space, it does not point out or discuss specific works. With the voiced aid of children's book author Maira Kalman, the tour features an overhead commentary by Kalman that describes her specific art museum experience. Instead of commenting on artists, mediums or practices, Kalman examines her feelings towards the overwhelming quality of art, how they act as guardians over her, and even when the best time to walk away from the work is. This more personal content acts as a different entry point for some viewers, who may find art museums challenging to connect with and intimidating.
Her commentary paired with the fun oldies hits and the constant movement all aim to create a completely new viewing experience that has more to do with lifting our minds out of the veritable traditions of art viewing; this quiet reflection that we encounter. Museum Workouts wants to tap into the physical side to support a new understanding of the art; one that is perhaps more carnal and initially personal. By physically placing our minds into a different context, Museum Workouts successfully enables the connection of thoughts and feelings associated with the artwork that are rarely seen and even more rarely taught in traditional contexts.
Title image courtesy of Whhy.
Within the new Trump Adminstration's tax overhaul, a slight change could potentially provide a major impact to wealthy art collectors' mindsets. While the new tax cuts fees for both corporations and wealthy individuals, providing more money to spend at art auctions, a recent removal of art as a benefit asset from the 1031 Exchange suggests that these transactions may become less frequent. Normally used by wealthy investors as a tool, the 1031 Exchange allows deferment of capital gains tax that then rolls over the profit of a sale in order to purchase more art. In juxtaposition to this financial shift, international art auctions, fairs, and biennials have only grown in popularity; numerous new showcases popping up in cities throughout the world. While the opportunities for sales has risen, these new tax laws call into question the future of art as an investment tool.
Because art investment is such a niche market, the largest percentage of collectors residing in the United States and predominantly older generations, many suggest that these taxes will hinder sales by these investors, who will instead pass them down to future generations. Museums also offer an avenue through borrowing; namely investors receiving benefits by lending to art institutions. This however, affects only a certain percentage of investors and leaves room to ask what about the new generations of collectors? As the young and wealthy head to fairs and auction houses for investment opportunities, will these taxes deter purchases, and push them to explore other markets of investment.
This type of purchase proves to be even more dangerous for the investment market than previously seen. Media around these purchases make the market seem hot, paired with the frequency of opportunity for art purchases worldwide, which makes the market seem tangible for many young investors. However, because these sales are almost pre-planned and done so with only the wealthiest of interested collectors, they actually make the market more volatile. Without external bidding, with actual results, auction houses are able to increase growth and inflation without validation of a real price. This reveals to be challenging territory for young art-buying enthusiasts, but as Doug Woodham, of Art Fiduciary Advisors has stated, "Collectors are smart, tax-aware people".
Every two years, the European Nomadic Biennial, or Manifesta 12 , hosts an all encompassing art event that takes over the city and aims to enhance international conversation about art, culture and our natural world. Founded in Amsterdam in the early 1990s, Manifesta was conceived following the Cold War as a European platform that uses art installations and creative experiences to discuss sociopolitical concepts, cultural exchanges, and environmental issues. Every two years, Manifesta chooses a new city to host, usually keeping in mind the location's history and atmospheric conditions. This year, the board selected the small city of Palermo, Italy, the capital of the island of Sicily. With a vast history of occupation by almost every European civilization and deep-set relationships with both Northern Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean spanning the last 2000 years, Palermo has a vibrant culture. Presenting social issues such as migration, but also botanical observations such as pollination of exotic plants, Palermo offers a multi-layered platform for international dialogue, as well as highlighting emerging artists.
Entitled The Planetary Garden: Cultivating Coexistence, the part public art installation, part Land Art, is split into three sections of discussion. Garden of Flows explores local plant life, gardening, and its greater existence transnationally, Out Of Control Room discusses global powers within the context, and City On Stage examines existing collaborations between artists and civic bodies at work on real projects within the city. With nearly 50 art installations spread across Palermo, each falls into one of these sections, creating a comprehensive dialogue for the overall project. Theatre of the Sun (2018), an immersive mural at the Palazzo Butera is made of wallpapered plants and maps of the fruit trees growing in Palermo, creating The Palermo Public Fruit Map. This installation is part of a larger resource created by Manifesta, Endless Orchard, an expanding global resource that maps public edibles in cities around the world.
The best representation of Palermo as the historical intersection of cultural heritage, global diversity and botanical cross-pollination can be seen in an 1875 painting by Francesco Lojacono, View of Palemo. Presented in the curatorial statement for Manifesta 12, this painting personifies the product of Palermo's continuous migration. The painting itself depicts numerous plants that can all be defined by their place of origin, and consequently depicts that nothing is indigenous to the area; olive trees from Asia, prickly pear from Mexico, loquat from Japan.
As a small metaphor for the entire mission statement of Manifesto 12, the European Nomadic Biennial has continued to construct discussion surrounding singular cultural identities within an international scope. Seen through the overwhelming number of immersive art installations and experiences, this successful display provides a new perspective on our individual histories as well as the greater influences across the globe.
View more at Manifesta 12.
Title image: Fallen Fruit, Theatre of the Sun, 2018. Courtesy of Manifesta 12.