Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
Olbricht Collection, Berlin. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York © Kehinde Wiley

Michael Jackson-Themed Art Exhibit Debuts in London

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
Olbricht Collection, Berlin. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York © Kehinde Wiley

Few artists changed pop culture the way Michael Jackson did. Nine years after his death, people around the world are still emulating his dance moves, playing his songs on the radio, and creating their own art inspired by the King of Pop. As a tribute to his enduring legacy, a collection of artworks depicting the singer-songwriter—some of which have never been publicly showcased before—has gone on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The exhibit, "Michael Jackson: On the Wall," features the works of 48 artists, with notable names including Keith Haring, David LaChapelle, and Andy Warhol.

Three paintings of Michael Jackson by Andy Warhol
By Andy Warhol
Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images

Its opening on June 28 marked the first time that the final commissioned portrait of Michael Jackson, titled Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson), was displayed in the UK. It was painted in 2009 by New York City-based artist Kehinde Wiley, who unveiled two separate portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama in early 2018.

Wiley described working with Jackson on the painting as an “extraordinary” experience and said he was surprised to learn how knowledgeable the singer was about Peter Paul Rubens’s 17th-century painting Philip II on Horseback, which Wiley based his version on.

“His knowledge of art and art history was much more in-depth than I had imagined,” Wiley told the National Portrait Gallery. “He was talking about the difference between early and late Rubens’ brushwork.”

Wiley finished the portrait several months after Jackson’s death. Celebrity photographer David LaChapelle, another well-known artist who captured some of Jackson's final months, will have several of his works displayed in the exhibit.

An artwork inspired by Michael Jackson

An illuminating path by David LaChapelle

Courtesy of David LaChapelle

LaChapelle is known for working religious symbolism into his images, and some of his photographs of Jackson—taken just before the singer’s death—depict the performer as Jesus. Of Jackson, LaChapelle told Paper magazine in 2017, “Michael is a big, important figure to me. I put him on the level of Michelangelo, William Blake, The Beatles. There was no musical equivalent for the time. Michael had something that touched everybody. He was magical.”

The exhibit will coincide with what would have been Jackson’s 60th birthday on August 29 and will remain open until October 21.

A section of the art exhibit

P.Y.T. by Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom

Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images
Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
60 Years Later, a Lost Stanley Kubrick Script Has Been Found
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images

A “lost” screenplay co-written by famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been found after 60 years, Vulture reports.

The screenplay is an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s novella Burning Secret, which Vulture describes as a reverse Lolita (plot summary for those who forgot high school English class: a man enters a relationship with a woman because of his obsession with her 12-year-old daughter). In Burning Secret, a man befriends an adolescent boy in order to seduce his mother. Zweig’s other works have inspired films like Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (which the director claims he "stole" from Zweig's novels Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl).

Kubrick’s screenplay adaptation is co-written by novelist Calder Willingham and dated October 24, 1956. Although the screenplay bears a stamp from MGM’s screenwriting department, Nathan Abrams—the Bangor University professor who discovered the script—thinks it’s likely the studio found it too risqué for mass audiences.

“The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface,” Abrams told The Guardian. It's worth noting, however, that Kubrick directed an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1962, which MGM distributed, and it was also met with a fair share of controversy.

Abrams said the screenplay for Burning Secret is complete enough that it could be created by filmmakers today. He noted that the discovery is particularly exciting because it confirms speculations Kubrick scholars have had for decades.

“Kubrick aficionados knew he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed,” Abrams told The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that Abrams found the screenplay while researching his book Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film. The screenplay is owned by the family of one of Kubrick’s colleagues.

[h/t Vulture]


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