Michael Jackson and the visual arts

Beyond dispute, Michael Jackson is considered as one of the greatest talents of popular music. And to this day he holds more records than anyone else: for the best-selling album of all times globally, "Thriller," at 66 million copies, for the most no. 1 singles of a male solo artist in the U.S. charts and for the highest-paid recording contract of all times. Thus, there is no doubt that he had a lasting influence on music history. But what about his effect on the visual arts?

To this day, Michael Jackson is still present in pop culture today. His albums are still sold, his music videos seen and his songs played all over the world. 

It is also in other fields of art, that he has left his mark on society. Indeed, many claim that he is the most frequently chosen motive in the arts. Uncounted contemporary artists have received inspiration from his extraordinary, multifaceted personality and his musical style.

For the first time ever, the exhibition "Michael Jackson: On the Wall" explores the specific influence he has had and still has on contemporary art to the present day. The exhibition displays works by about fifty artists from public and private collections. Some of them were created specifically for the exhibition. Among the artists are Rita Ackermann, Graham Dolphin, Paul McCarthy, Mark Ryden, Yan Pei Ming and Andy Warhol.

The exhibition asks why Jackson  continues to loom so  prominentlay in our collective imagination to this day and why he inspires so many contemporary artists. Growing up in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Jackson's music was formative to  many atists. Others have even closely collaborated with him. They are all united by their fascination with what Jackson represented and what he created.
- Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

From Dolphin to Warhol

Andy Warhol was the first artist to create an artistic representation of Michael Jackson, thereby proving his cultural savvy and vision. In 1982, he chose Jackson for the cover of Interview magazine, which Warhol had founded. In 1984, he created one more portrait, this time for the cover of Time magazine. He didn't stop there: Warhol's works continued to feature Jackson's image, for example the silkscreen portraits shown at the exhibition.

Graham Dolphin, a contemporary British artist, also takes on Jackson as an artistic subject. In doing so, he approaches the topics of fan culture and idolization. To this day, Jackson has a faithful fan base all over the world, and his albums released after 2009, including unpublished material, sold just as well as those on which he worked in his lifetime. The fascination in the King of Pop remains unbroken to this day.

"Exquisite Terribleness in the Mangrove" by Todd Gray 2014. The collection of Aryn Drake-Lee Williams & Jesse Williams. Image courtesy of Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles © Todd Gray

BOSS x Michael Jackson

Our support of this exhibition, however, is not the only link between HUGO BOSS and Michael Jackson. The cover of "Thriller," the worldwide best-selling album of all times, shows Jackson in a white suit—a suit from BOSS. On the occasion of his birthday, we have launched a new edition of this legendary suit. Limited to 100 copies, the capsule collection also features three T-shirts with prints inspired by the King of Pop. The artist Graham Dolphin, whose works are part of the exhibition, even designed one of the T-shirts. You can find more information on this in our Online Store.

Further exhibitions and projects

© Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Thomas Dix
Supporting art exhibitions in order to foster dialog on current topics in society is an integral part of our commitment. For this purpose, HUGO BOSS cooperates with renowned art museums all over the world.