Theodore Taylor: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Album Cover

Ed. Note: Read about Theodore Taylor III. Check out his mixes. This is an old article published right after Michael Jackson’s death. I’ve been intrigued with Michael’s music and album artwork lately.

Michael Jackson was working on "the man in the mirror" when he died
Michael Jackson was still working on “the man in the mirror” when he died

The Cover Up As most people in the world know by now, pop music lost another legend yesterday with the death of Michael Jackson. Like a lot of people my age, I have fond memories of his music from my childhood, from watching a collection of his videos during an after-school program to trying to out-moonwalk friends.

If anything, his death is a reminder that we should appreciate our iconic artists while they’re living, just as we were reminded when we lost Isaac Hayes last year, James Brown in 2006 and many others.

The painting by Kadir Nelson features a montage of classic MJ images, from his Off the Wall-era tux to looks from the "Thriller" video.
The painting by Kadir Nelson for “Michael” features a montage of classic MJ images, from his Off the Wall-era tux to looks from the “Thriller” video.

Today I caught a message on Twitter from Mark Schiller, founder of The Wooster Collective, mentioning that the cover of 1991 album Dangerous was painted by well-known artist Mark Ryden. I’m not sure why I didn’t know this, considering all of the issues of Juxtapoz I’ve read, where Ryden is a star. But it is an interesting bit of trivia for “lowbrow” and pop-surrealist fans, especially today. The cover is fantastically intricate with many details to pick out, reminding me a little bit of Mati Klarwein’s work. Sleevage also covered this artwork in ’07.

Mark Ryden was the artist for Michael Jackson's album, Dangerous
Mark Ryden was the artist for Michael Jackson’s album, Dangerous

While browsing Ryden’s portfolio I also caught this painting of another icon, Jimi Hendrix, which appears to have been done for Rolling Stone in 1999. And for the sake of nostalgia from my younger years, I’m going to include the video for “Remember The Time”, a leading single from Dangerous, directed by John Singleton, featuring Eddie Murphy, Iman and, of course, Magic Johnson. Michael disappearing into sand always got to me as a kid…read more.

Note: “Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art.” “At the center…Jackson in royal gold and burgundy vestments, a golden crown hovering over his head.” Read more. Check out this article about “Michael” album-cover artist, Kadir Nelson.

Visual artist Mark Ryden's painting of Jimi Hendrix
Visual artist Mark Ryden’s painting of Jimi Hendrix