The Audacious Reason Why Michael Jackson And Michelangelo Are The Same
viernes, 19 de mayo de 2017 8:06|Maria Isabel Carrasco
What does the man who revolutionized music and culture has in common with the mastermind who told us what God looked like? In case you missed the title, we’re talking about the Renaissance genius artist, Michelangelo and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Apart from the name, these two figures seem completely unrelatable, since they lived hundreds of years apart. So where does this comparison come from?
In an interview we had with the famous photographer, David LaChapelle, he stated that Michelangelo and Michael Jackson were on the same artistic level. Why? Because both of them created icons that society will always recognize and with the same cultural importance. He has said this in other interviews and, of course, people went crazy and felt outraged by this statement. Basically, many felt the comparison only diminished the importance and relevance of the Italian artist while, at the same time, put the musician on a pedestal where only geniuses should be.
This idea of low and high brow culture has been part of humanity for centuries. It’s an instinctive process in which we separate what we think is worth noting or highlighting to give us status. For centuries, art has been the best way to show wealth and power. Think of the seventeenth century aristocracy, who would acquire hundreds of paintings and sculptures in a competition were the one with the most renowned pieces won. If we were to go even further, think of Michelangelo himself. During his lifetime, the most important families in Italy became the main patrons of artists like Da Vinci or Buonarroti himself. In other words, art has always been a weapon to control and acquire power.
With the passing of time, during the late nineteenth and especially during the twentieth century, the economy changed radically, and with it, the consumption of art. The wealthy weren't the only ones with access to education, and therefore, to specific forms of art. Thus, high brow culture became available to everyone. Knowledge became the new purchasing power, and so, status was measured through art (or, to be more precise, knowledge and acquisition). But who decides what’s high or low culture? Why do people get upset when one of the greatest artists of history is paralleled to an artist of the masses? Or, why is mass culture so scorned by those who think they only consume high culture?
Let’s break it down. Those who were upset by LaChapelle’s statement most likely value the status they've acquired with the "type" of culture they consume. Suppose you’re a person who brags about frequently attending the opera, only watching art films, listening to the classics or jazz music, and suddenly you’re told that one of your biggest heroes has basically the same artistic value than a pop musician. Of course, your ego will be hurt.
So why did LaChapelle say something like that? Naturally, he’s not comparing their work. That would be like comparing apples to oranges. What he really parallels is the impact they have on culture. Both have acquired an important level of recognition that not so many artists possess. You might say that everybody knows Picasso, but do they? Would they really tell the difference between one of his paintings and that by any other cubist? No, they recognize the figure and more or less what his art is like, but it’s not the same. If you think of Michelangelo, we all know The Pietà, David, or his most famous work, The Creation of Adam. The same happens with Jackson. You might not like his music, but you know who he was, you can recognize many of his tunes and know they’re his, or even his most famous attire: the red leather jacket and the white glove.
They both created highly recognizable cultural references. Regardless of the uproar caused by LaChapelle's statement, we can't deny that both icons are vital elements of mainstream culture. Because, even if you don’t want to accept it, Michelangelo’s art is part of the masses. Michael Jackson loved quoting Michelangelo when he said: “I know the creator will go but his art survives. That is why, to escape death, I attempt to bind my soul to my work.” And, indeed, both managed to escape death.
If you want to know why Michael Jackson is the ultimate pop icon, take a look at these:
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