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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Portraits Hit Auction Houses in Wake of Singer’s Death

Michael Jackson and Artists

Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” served as the inspiration for many artists seeking to represent their era’s most illustrious and influential stars. Sampled by countless recording artists, his image alone was currency in the world of the visual arts. Representing seemingly boundless talent and music that defined a creative generation, the figure of Michael Jackson eventually came to be seen as a cultural character plagued by odd and self destructive behavior. Although the media attention Jackson received during his life often fluctuated between awe and disgust, the media coverage of his death has settled on what visual artists had long accepted; his unmistakable status as a man of pure creative energy and brilliance.

Iconic artists such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons were as drawn to the life and music of Michael Jackson as the media, courting the artist and including him in their cannon of now famous artwork. Warhol, a well known enthusiast for anything pop, executed a number of portraits of famous movie and music stars of his time and did not fail to capture the pop superstar of the 1980’s and 90’s. A portrait of Jackson executed in 1984 to celebrate his record breaking “Thriller” album recently sold at auction for an undisclosed amount said to have been well in excess of $1 million. Koons, also fascinated by Jackson, created a ceramic statue of Jackson and his monkey Bubbles that has been called by Times art critic Christopher Knight “arguably the World’s Largest Knickknack” (Stern). Garish and metallic, it seems to embody the often over the top costumes that Jackson was so well known for.

Brett-Livingstone Strong Portrait

Michael Jackson has attracted the creative efforts of many of the late 20th and early 21st century artists, and Brett-Livingstone Strong is no exception. Strong’s painting of Jackson, “The Book,” was created in 1990 and is said to be the only portrait Jackson actually posed for (Weiner). Currently owned and on view at the Dancy-Power Automotive Group in Harlem, this unlikely owner is seeking to sell the work that sold for $2.1 million the year it was painted. Featuring Jackson in the foreground of a tiled room replete with whimsical flowing drapery and cathedral style windows, Strong’s unique style coupled with this most contemporary subject will surely find an appropriately high sales price at auction.

Strong is an artist who is defined by much more than this singular piece. Originally from Australia, Strong rose to the top of the art world when he was commissioned to paint the invitation for Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Opening of the Sydney Opera House. Moving to Los Angeles to further his art career, Strong orchestrated a successful publicity coup when he carved a statue of John Wayne out of a bolder that had fallen onto a California highway. Propelled by his ever-increasing fame, Strong worked on portraits and commissions for a great number of celebrities. Embracing many forms of painting and printmaking, the artist has also been known to create monuments of celebrities or for historically significant sites. Strong’s bright colors and ethereal application technique have come to define the artist’s work, creating a great deal of appeal to art aficionados and collectors alike.

MIR Appraisal Services has a select number of examples of Brett-Livingstone Strong’s work in their collection. Both are limited edition serigraphs on paper and feature landscapes of contrasting climates. The first, titled “Timelessness,” depicts an arid landscape with a dry, dead tree in the foreground and red rock formations on the horizon, possibly an homage to his home country of Australia. The second is entitled “Emerald Rainforest” and depicts a rain forest complete with lush vegetation and channeling a soothing blue mist. They are executed much in the same style as the Michael Jackson portrait about to go to auction and speak to Strong’s unmistakable qualities of whimsy, environment and talent.

Justin Bergquist

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308

Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 814-8510

Works cited:

“Another Michael Jackson Portrait to Hit the Auction Block,” in ARTINFO. jackson-portrait-to-hit-the-auction-block/

Stern, Sherry. “Michael Jackson, Art Muse,” in Los Angeles Times.

Weiner, David. “Jackson May Be Up For Sale,” in Huffington Post.

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.