The presence of the King of Pop still reigns and particularly so at Art Basel Miami Beach, the renowned art fair that began just yesterday. At the booth of New York Gallery Deitch Projects is Kehinde Wiley’s Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II which is a rendition of the Ruben’s work but replaces the Spanish monarch with Michael Jackson.
According to the gallery, the piece began as a commission for the pop star. Last year, the artist received a phone call from a certain “Brother Michael,” who was an assistant to Michael Jackson and who had asked to commission a painting of the singer based on a photograph of Jackson on one of his album covers. When the artist and the pop singer talked, Wiley came away describing Jackson as “solidly knowledgeable about painting and its processes,” according to mediabistro. The two then agreed on an artistic collaboration in which Jackson would be photographed in a pose inspired by an Old Master painting but with the singer’s own image.
The idea soon fell through when Jackson’s assistants changed phone numbers when the pop start was on tour. Unable to get back in contact, the project was only revived after Michael Jackson’s death and results in the painting that is on display at Art Miami Basel today.