EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Michael Jackson: On the Wall presents by contemporary artists' explorations of Michael Jackson as a phenomenon

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Michael Jackson: On the Wall brings together works by 48 international artists to explore the influence of Michael Jackson on some of the leading names in contemporary art, from Andy Warhol to Isa Genzken.

An Illuminating Path 1998 by David LaChapell. courtesy of the artist  © David LaChapell
An Illuminating Path 1998 by David LaChapell. courtesy of the artist © David LaChapell

Michael Jackson’s significance is widely acknowledged when it comes to music, music videos, dance, choreography and fashion. Since Andy Warhol first used his image in 1982, he has also become the most depicted cultural figure in visual art. The exhibition Michael Jackson: On the Wall brings together almost 100 artistic interpretations of Jackson and asks why so many contemporary artists have been drawn to him as a subject. The exhibition examines Jackson as a cultural phenomenon through seven themes: Cultural Meaning, Time Capsule, African-American Identity, Many Sides of Fandom, Behind the Mask, King of Pop and Body on the Move. 

The artists of the exhibition come from various generations, employ a range of media and are from nine different nationalities. The selection embraces works by some of the most important contemporary artists working today, but also includes emerging artists. Through their works, the artists discuss themes such as identity, race, fan culture, gender and equality – topics which are still relevant today. 

The artists are: Rita Ackermann, Emma Amos, Lyle Ashton Harris, Dara Birnbaum, Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom, Candice Breitz, Monster Chetwynd, Michael Craig-Martin, Dexter Dalwood, Graham Dolphin, Mark Flood, Isa Genzken, Michael Gittes, Todd Gray, Kai Guetta, Maggi Hambling, Jonathan Horowitz, Rashid Johnson, Isaac Julien, Johannes Kahrs, KAWS, David LaChapelle, Louise Lawler, Klara Lidén, Glenn Ligon, Sam Lipp, Isaac Lythgoe, Paul McCarthy, Rodney McMillian, Dawn Mellor, Dan Mihaltianu, Mr. Brainwash, Lorraine O’Grady, Catherine Opie, Yan Pei-Ming, Grayson Perry, Paul Pfeiffer, Faith Ringgold, Michael Robinson, Pamela Rosenkrantz, Mark Ryden, Susan Smith-Pinelo, Donald Urquhart, Andy Warhol, Kehinde Wiley, Hank Willis Thomas, Jordan Wolfson and Rose Wylie.

Produced by the National Portrait Gallery in London, where it was first shown in 2018, Michael Jackson: On the Wall was curated by Gallery Director, Dr Nicholas Cullinan. The exhibition curator at EMMA is Chief Curator Arja Miller. The exhibition at EMMA also includes additional works by Paul McCarthy, Pamela Rosenkrantz and Rose Wylie. Their art adds further depth to the varied collection of works and its many interpretations. 

"Michael Jackson’s influence on our culture is undeniable. Art is always understood in its context, and we understand the current conversation may have changed the way the exhibition is interpreted. Michael Jackson: On the Wall is not a biographical. It examines Jackson's influence on contemporary art and our culture, and offers a thoughtful platform for dialogue on current phenomena," says EMMA’s Director Pilvi Kalhama. 

Michael Jackson: On the Wall travelled to the Grand Palais in Paris and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. EMMA is the final venue of the tour. 

A catalogue has been published in conjunction with the exhibition, with articles contributed by Nicholas Cullinan, Margo Jefferson and Zadie Smith. The book is available at the EMMA Shop. 

Michael Jackson: On the Wall was produced in cooperation with the Michael Jackson Estate. 

The exhibition has received support from the Embassy of the United States in Helsinki, the Romanian Cultural Institute in Stockholm and Embassy of Romania to Finland. 

Exhibition programme: 

Wed 21 August 17.30  
EMMA Talks: On Stage Todd Gray and Graham Dolphin
Arja Miller, EMMA's Chief Curator, in discussion with the Michael Jackson: On the Wall artists on their work. The discussion will be in English.  

Sun 8 Sep at 13
Expert Guided Tour
Milja Liimatainen, EMMA's Curator, talks about the planning of Michael Jackson: On the Wall and about its content.

You can explore the exhibition in advance and in the galleries with a mobile guide

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Images

An Illuminating Path 1998 by David LaChapell. courtesy of the artist  © David LaChapell
An Illuminating Path 1998 by David LaChapell. courtesy of the artist © David LaChapell
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Graham Dolphin
Thriller (Black and White)
2017
acrylic on record cover
625 x 310 mm
Courtesy of the artist
Graham Dolphin Thriller (Black and White) 2017 acrylic on record cover 625 x 310 mm Courtesy of the artist
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Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: Behind the Mask. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: Behind the Mask. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
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Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: King of Pop. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: King of Pop. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
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KAWS
Interview Magazine, September 2009
2009
medium and dimensions vary
Courtesy of KAWS
KAWS Interview Magazine, September 2009 2009 medium and dimensions vary Courtesy of KAWS
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Paul McCarthy: Michael Jackson and Bubbles (Gold), 1997–1999
Friedrich Christian Flick Collection
Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Paul McCarthy: Michael Jackson and Bubbles (Gold), 1997–1999 Friedrich Christian Flick Collection Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
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Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: Many Sides of Fandom. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
Michael Jackson: On the Wall. Theme: Many Sides of Fandom. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA
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Exquisite Terribleness in the Mangrove, 
2014 by Todd Gray. 
The collection of Aryn Drake-Lee Williams & Jesse Williams. 
Image courtesy of Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles. 
© Todd Gray
Exquisite Terribleness in the Mangrove, 2014 by Todd Gray. The collection of Aryn Drake-Lee Williams & Jesse Williams. Image courtesy of Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles. © Todd Gray
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About EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art

EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art
Ahertajantie 5
02100 Espoo

http://www.emmamuseum.fi

EMMA – Espoon modernin taiteen museon kokoelma- ja näyttelytoiminta profiloituu kotimaiseen ja kansainväliseen modernismiin, nykytaiteeseen sekä designiin. EMMA sijaitsee Espoon Tapiolassa, professori Aarno Ruusuvuoren suunnittelemassa betoniarkkitehtuuria edustavassa Näyttelykeskus WeeGeessä. Näyttelytilat ovat pinta-alaltaan Suomen suurimmat, ja pelkistetty moderni arkkitehtuuri tukee EMMAn, Saastamoisen säätiön ja Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Säätiön kokoelmien sekä vaihtuvien näyttelyiden kokemuksellista esittämistä. Tervetuloa!

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