The Art and the Artist
"Michael Jackson was clearly one of the greatest entertainers of our era. His influence dominated and defined our culture not only in music, but in fashion, dance, film and so much more. Often overlooked are his spectacular skills as a songwriter, composing both music and lyrics for his immense body of work. In an era in which most songs are composed by teams, Michael was the sole composer of dozens of songs that endeared him to audiences around the world. A BMI songwriter since 1976, his BMI catalog contains more than 150 songs, more than 20 reaching multi-million performance status on American radio and television."
Del Bryant, President & CEO, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
"The idol of all singers, all dancers..
I don't have the words to express how this man didn't live like the normal human being..
Everywhere he went he left an indelebile mark."
"A Michael Jackson comes around literally once in a lifetime. They break the mold and I think there're people who just sacrifice their life, their personal life all for the arts. That's what Michael did; he sacrificed his life for the arts."
"I knew Michael as a child and watched him grow over the years. Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched."
Dick Clark, host of "American Bandstand"
"What one wishes is to be touched by truth and to be able to interpret that truth so that one may use what one is feeling and experiencing, be it despair or joy, in a way that will add meaning to one's life and will hopefully touch others as well.
This is art in its highest form. Those moments of enlightenment are what I continue to live for."
“You give of your talent, of your ability… the talent that was given you by the Heavens. That’s why we’re here, to bring a sense of escapism in time of need. And, uh, if you’re a painter you paint; if you’re a sculptor, you sculpt; if you’re a writer, you write; if you’re a songwriter, you give songs; if you’re a dancer, you give dance. You give people some love and some… some bliss and some escapism, and to show that you truly care from the heart, and be there for them. Not just from a distance, but show you really care. You know, take the long mile and be there for them. And that’s what I did, and many others who cared and helped. And it’s an important thing.”
“He was so shy, he’d sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me while I sat there with my hands over my eyes with the lights out. I think the thing for him was he was a complete triple treat. He could sing like nobody’s business, he could dance like nobody’s business with electric performances. So, every time he hit the stage, no matter what he was doing, no matter what type of song he was doing, all eyes were on him. I think Michael was a sheer natural, dropped on this earth by the Most High to show everyone how to do it… and, he did it. He was born with talent, you don’t learn it, no one teaches you how to be Michael Jackson in grade school. The true, true stars are people with unique and unbelievable talent like no one else. He didn’t sound like anyone else, he didn’t dance like anyone else, and he had that special something that only stars have. There are a lot of people who assume they’re stars… he was a real star. Around the world, this guy is held up in honor as the greatest entertainer. He transcended everything. He was that uber star, not just a regular star. I think now, people are trying to remember the joy that he brought into everyone’s lives, and also the sheer greatness of this talent, which is what you should be applauding at this time. This is one of those times in our lifetime that we saw a real beacon.”
"I'm committed to my art. I believe that all art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. And I believe that that is the very reason for the existence of art and what I do. And I feel fortunate in being that instrument through which music flows .... Deep inside I feel that this world we live in is really a big, huge, monumental symphonic orchestra. I believe that in its primordial form all of creation is sound and that it's not just random sound, that its music. You've heard the expression, music of the spheres? Well, thats a very literal phrase. In the Gospels, we read, "And the Lord God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." That breath of life to me is the music of life and it permeates every fiber of creation.
In one of the pieces of the Dangerous album, I say: "Life songs of ages, throbbing in my blood, have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood." This is a very literal statement, because the same new miracle intervals and biological rhythms that sound out the architecture of my DNA also governs the movement of the stars. The same music governs the rhythm of the seasons, the pulse of our heartbeats, the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of ocean tides, the cycles of growth, evolution and dissolution. It's music, its rhythm. And my goal in life is to give to the world what I was lucky to receive: the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance. Its like, my purpose, its what I'm here for."
Michael Jackson in Ebony/Jet 2002 interview
"Who wants mortality? Everybody wants immortality. You want what you create to live! Be it sculping, painting, music, composition. That is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work because I just want it to live forever and just give all that I have."
"Watching Michael work was like watching what Michelangelo must have gone through. He was a genius"
“Michael Jackson may be the purest talent I’ve ever seen. He’s incapable of a false moment.”
"Michael was fascinating to watch. Working with him taught me the importance of seizing every moment on stage. He painted pictures with every lyric and movement in his body."
Judith Hill, This Is It singer
“Michael was a perfectionist. He knew exactly what he liked and didn't like. Since he was the King of Pop, he needed the best people in the world working for him and he was very specific as to whom. He was always the conductor. At the same time, he was a great father and a true humanitarian. His heart was bigger than the planet; even bigger than the galaxy. His gentle and spiritual nature made him one of the greatest people to ever walk the Earth.”
Rushka Bergman (Michael Jackson's stylist for 2 years)
“As I think back to all the musicians I’ve done music videos for, I cannot think of anybody that has had that electrifying a presence when they kick in.”
Nick Brandt, Fine Art Photographer and Film Director
“I look up to Michael and I rather my fans know what MJ is to the culture and he in a category all by himself…”
The Michael Jackson Interviews - Inspirations and Visions:
"The creative process doesn't involve time clocks or quota systems; it involves inspiration and the willingness to follow through."
"Michael loved art a lot. He -- he loved paintings, he loved water colors. He loved even the crayons. And he would always draw. And when he was even in school, he would draw pictures and they took one of his drawings and put it on the front of the yearbook.… He taught himself. … Just the talent that he had. And I can’t say too much more about him, only his father — his father was an artist, too. He loved to paint and draw. So I thought maybe he might have picked it up from him. But he had a natural talent for it, Michael did."
Katherine Jackson, Michael´s mother
"I love to draw—pencil, ink pen—I love art. When I go on tour and visit museums in Holland, Germany or England—you know those huge paintings?—I’m just amazed. You don’t think a painter could do something like that. I can look at a piece of sculpture or a painting and totally lose myself in it. Standing there watching it and becoming part of the scene. It can draw tears, it can touch you so much. See, that’s where I think the actor or performer should be—to touch that truth inside of the person. Touch that reality so much that they become a part of what you’re doing and you can take them anywhere you want to. You’re happy, they’re happy. Whatever the human emotions, they’re right there with you. I love realism. I don’t like plastics. Deep down inside we’re all the same. We all have the same emotions and that’s why a film like E.T. touches everybody. Who doesn’t want to fly like Peter Pan? Who doesn’t want to fly with some magic creature from outer space and be friends with him? Steven went straight to the heart. He knows—when in doubt, go for the heart…"
Michael Jackson talks about Art (Michael Jackson parla di Arte):
"Michael Jackson was extraordinary. When we worked together on Bad, I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion. He was wonderful to work with, an absolute professional at all times, and - it really goes without saying - a true artist."
"Michael Jackson, more than any other entertainer, is living art a creation of his own childhood sensibilities. He only really comes alive on stage, under the lights, amid the razzle-dazzle of mind-boggling technology. And there he simply exhausts himself. Left off stage for too long, his mind tears away from reality, like a shadow fleeing the sun."
Greg Quill: Michael Jackson Electryfying, 1988
"I miss Michael's intelligence and integrity. Michael had a deep respect for his art, it's origins and all other artists. That is why his music touched EVERYONE's heart and emotions...his art was inspired by ALL that came before him and all those around him."
Karen Faye, MJ´s make up artist and friend, via Twitter
“You give of your talents, of your ability. The talent that was given you by the Heavens. That’s why we’re here, to bring a sense of escapism in a time of need. If you’re a painter, you paint. If you’re a sculptor, you sculpt. If you’re a writer, you write. If you’re a songwriter, you write songs. If you’re a dancer, you dance. You give people some love and some bliss and some escapism and show them that you truly care from the heart. And, that you are there for them. YOU ARE THERE FOR THEM. And, that’s what I did. It’s an important thing.”
Michael Jackson, October 2001
“I have always felt compassion for the planet. Sometime I just start to get emotional. I cry because I can almost feel the pain in the air. I put it in words and in song and in dance I think that is what artistry is.”
“To me, Michael Jackson embodies passion, energy, mystery, compassion, complexity, brilliance, creativity, wonder, tragedy and love. His art wasn’t meant to only entertain (though that was part of it). He aimed broader and deeper than most artists. His artistic legacy to me has to do with how he tried to use his art to re-imagine the world…and, how he fused and stretched and reinvented so many forms to that end.”
Joseph Vogel in The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies
"We were all bunched together on the opposite side of the pool table from the art director. Michael was in the center. I stood next to him on his left. And the brothers were crowded around us on either side. The CBS art director slid the first of the portfolios toward Michael. He opened the first page, slowly … just enough to see perhaps an inch of the image. As he took in the artwork his knees began to buckle, his elbows bent, and all he could say was “oooohhhhh.” A soft, orgasmic “ooooh.” In that one syllable and in his body language, you could feel what he was seeing.
Do you know the poem by William Blake –
To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour . . .
The intense ambition of that poem, the intense desire for wonder, was alive in Michael. More alive than anything of the sort I’d ever seen. Michael saw the infinite in an inch. As Michael opened the page further, inch by inch, his knees and elbows bent even more and his ”ooohs,” his sounds of aesthetic orgasm, grew even more intense. Standing elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder with him, you could feel him discovering things in the brush and inkstrokes that even the artist never saw. By the time he’d opened the full page his body and voice expressed an ecstasy. An aesthetic epiphany. I’d never encountered anything like it. Michael felt the beauty of the page with every cell of his being. I’ve worked with Prince, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, and Bette Midler, some of the most talented people of our generation, and not one of them had the quality of wonder that came alive in Michael. He saw the wonder in everything. His quality of wonder was beyond anything most of us humans can conceive...."
Howard Bloom, bestselling author
“The more I’ve studied Michael Jackson and his work, the more convinced I am that he was a man of tremendous courage and deep psychological insight, fiercely committed to social change, wryly funny even during the most difficult times, and an artist to the very core of his being. He was everything in terms of art, and the transformative power of art. We have no unmediated access to the world, we can only access the world through our senses and perceptions, and art has the ability to challenge and change those perceptions. That is a tremendous power and Michael Jackson understood that better than any other artist of his time. He developed an artistic response that challenges our most fundamental beliefs about race and identity, and has changed us and our culture in ways we have not yet begun to measure. He developed an artistic response that shakes the foundations of perception itself, and challenges some of our basic assumptions about how we see, interpret, and make sense of the world. That is the work of a powerful artist.
Privacy (Michael Jackson and J.D. Salinger)
By Constance Pierce
Michael Joseph Jackson was a ritual healer whose charismatic presence magnetized and unified millions of souls for good through his global performances. Yet he also was, and still is, an intensely polarizing presence. An immense amount of shadow material was projected upon him by a myopic culture. As an artist, he became skilled at bearing this shadow, aesthetically processing it, and thrusting it back to us (as maligned artists often do) as art.
Another enigmatic genius of twentieth century culture also left the stage in 2009. He was 91, and unlike Michael, died of natural causes. He had escaped his own meteoric rise to fame nearly a half century ago, seeking out a small enclave of anonymity where he fiercely protected his privacy against all odds. When approached about doing his autobiography, J. D. Salinger reportedly responded by saying he had borne all of the exploitation and loss of privacy he could possibly bear in one lifetime. Michael had expressed similar sentiments in the prescient lyrics of “Privacy” on his final album ironically titled “Invincible.”
Like Salinger, Michael seemed to make his own bid to abandon his fame during the last decade. In the end, though, that seductive spotlight switched on one more time and he heroically (meant with mythic import) leapt into that light … and to his own death.
I wish that he had sought, as Salinger did, a place of stubborn anonymity so that he might have enjoyed several decades of personal and artistic privacy. I can so easily conjure an image of Michael finally at ease in his majestic personal library, the way it was evocatively photographed for the pages of “Architectural Digest.”
During his lifetime, he collected more then twenty thousand books for this library, with a leaning toward art, literature and history. Some of his greatest inspirations were the poetry of Emerson and Wordsworth, and the sculpture of Michelangelo. As mentioned by so many already, Michael was a voracious reader. One of his very last secret late night outings was to an L.A. bookstore.
I also imagine him spending a good part of his future engaging in the production of his classical compositions. At the time of his death he was collaborating with renowned American conductor David Frank to arrange and produce these orchestral pieces with a major symphony in London in 2010. Although, surprising to some, Michael listened to classical music all of his life, and had often expressed that his favorite composers of all time were Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Copeland.
As a painter and sketchbook artist himself, and an avid collector of art, there were reports that Michael – after retiring from the stage – was planning to realize a life long dream. Months before his death, as the story goes, his daughter was encouraging him to commence serious study in art history through the educational wing of one of the renowned New York fine art institutes.
There were also several reports that we would see Michael involved in film directing, producing, and acting in future years. He had already been engaged in a film project depicting the last days of one of his favorite writers, Edgar Allen Poe, where he had planned to play the lead role himself. There were so many avenues of his rich creative life that remained ahead of him.
Above all though, I envision him growing older while relishing the richness of thousands of days with his three children who were everything to him.
However, Michael desired to offer a last serious retrospective of his finest work through a series of live concerts in London prophetically entitled “This Is It.” His decision to engage in such an ambitious project at the age of fifty was, in large part, for his children. They were born in recent years, and had never seen him perform live before. In the end he had said “It’s all for love…” He died, at the careless hands of another, amidst his final act of creation.
According to New York Times writer Charles McGrath, J.D. Salinger once told his publisher he was “good and sick” of seeing his photograph on the dust jacket of “Catcher in the Rye” and he demanded that it be removed. He reportedly ordered his agent to burn his fan mail. Maybe, Salinger was furiously attempting to exorcise the “phonies” (in the vernacular of his archetypal character, Holden Caulfield) from his life. Maybe, for the profoundly celebrated, the price of true privacy demands such acts of self-defense against brutal public invasion.
The other night I had a dream. In it I could see J.D. Salinger and Michael Jackson sitting together. It looked to me like they had been up all night; sometimes companioning each other’s long silences, and at other times quietly discussing life … and death … and fatherhood … and art … and also the hauntingly elusive longing they had both shared for privacy.
In my dream, I notice that they are not conversing over a late night latte at a celestial Starbucks. Instead, I clearly discern them to be sitting shoulder-to- shoulder, just like the “Nighthawks,” in that nearly empty iconic Edward Hopper diner. Finally, they had each taken leave of the exquisite anguish of their fame. Outside the diner, surrounding them, I now see the vastness of a clear dark night sky in Paradise. The stars have come out. And, as Dante once wrote after taking leave of the Inferno, “Let poetry rise, again.”
Constance Pierce is a visual artist especially interested in the import of Jackson’s global influence in the area of visual culture. She has exhibited regionally, nationally, and in Europe and Japan. She is Associate Professor of Fine Art at St. Bonaventure University (NY). Her notable works include, ‘The Dance: Epiphany and Loss (Watercolor Series)’, ‘Will You Be There (Drawing Series)‘ and ‘RUACH HAKODESH: The Epiphanic and Cosmic Nature of Imagination in the Art of Michael Jackson‘. Find out more about Constance here.
Source of the article: michaeljacksonstudies.org/constance-pierce-privacy/
“Michael’s approach is very dramatic! Very concise. When he commits to an idea he goes all the way with it. He has the presence of mind to feel something, conceive it and then bring it to life. It’s a long way from idea to execution. Everybody wants to go to heaven and nobody wants to die. It’s ass power, man. You have to be emotionally ready to put as much energy into it as it takes to make it right.”
Steven Paul Whitsitt, a photographer, in The MJCast 118: Steven Paul Whitsitt Special (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XfhBcc9MlU&t=5412s)
"No single artist - indeed, no movement or force - has eclipsed what Michael Jackson accomplished in the first years of his solo adult career. Jackson changed the balance of the pop world in a way that nobody has since. He forced Rock & Roll and the mainstream press to acknowledge that the biggest pop star in the world could be young and black, and in doing that he broke down more barriers than anybody."
"I wonder who now will take over his role– not as the “King of Pop” but as the world’s cheerleader and hummanitarian? What language will she speak? How will he get the world’s attention? Michael spoke in the language of music. It was because of the language he spoke that he was able to reach the masses. Because he was so widely beloved, Michael was able to mobilize forces, bring people together, and create story in the most unusual and spectacular ways. He was a man with a mission and because of who he was, he was able to command audiences of millions. He used music- a popular and universal language to trumpet his message. He used it to reach just the right audience- youth. Michael understood that young people hold the hope for the future and the world. And his message was about healing the world, caring for children and that “we are one.” He was able to spread it universally to many generations and peoples around the globe. Who now is capable of that? We know in a quiet and secret place that there will never be another Michael. We, the world, didn’t cherish him enough, in fact we didn’t treat him very well and now he is gone."