Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: a tribute (and art lesson)

Now, I'm not going to suggest that Michael Jackson saw this whole dead-by-fifty thing coming down the pike, but I do think that he had an eye to posterity -- as evinced by regal portraiture like the following piece, which was up for auction at the Beverly Hilton this spring along with a trove of other memorabilia from Neverland.



Briefly, an artistic deconstruction of the painting: The monkey gazing at the haloed child (possibly Blanket) represents the eternal struggle between reconciling our origins with our evolutions (the ape's child, of course, mirroring the father-son dichotomy at play in the upper parts of the painting). The parrot perched on a saber is a visual analogy for Jackson himself; he's trained to sing and entertain, sure, but he carries a big stick (notice the beak protruding from behind Jackson's head, further enforcing the allusion). The space shuttle launching from the image's bottom-right corner stands for the myriad technological marvels that Jackson harnessed in the construction of Neverland Ranch, with all its animatronic accoutrements. And the shapeless, anguished red face behind Jackson's right shoulder is a clear representation of the frustration and shame the singer felt over repeatedly losing to Macaulay Caulkin in their regular water-balloon fights, as seen in the second minute of the below video.



Finally, the rays emanating from Jackson's head are clear indications of his omniscience. So I'm not going to end this post with a joke, as I'm tempted to do. I'll just say that Dangerous was the first album I ever owned and, as a guy who once looked like Macaulay Caulkin, I feel Michael's loss acutely. Moonwalk on, dude.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this art lesson. I feel Michael was awesome, a fascinating person as well as a genius. His paintings are just incredible. Could you post another one and explain it? Thank you. Jessica