“If I could be anyone, it would be Michael Jackson.” Jeff Koons is no stranger to controversy and, unsurprisingly, one of his biggest influences is the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson (whose birthday would have been tomorrow, Friday, August 29th). Koons went on to say, “For me, Michael Jackson served as a kind of spiritual authority who could help people feel secure in embracing their culture, whatever it was.”

Although Koons and Jackson never met in person, they corresponded with each other. Michael took the liberty of forwarding press pieces to Koons to serve as inspiration for his work. Koons singled one image out – an image he received of Michael and his chimpanzee, Bubbles, sitting on Michael’s lawn. The pair returned from the ‘Bad’ world tour – Michael’s first solo tour – and were adorned in matching red leather jackets. In 1988, Jeff seized the opportunity to create a sculpture of the pair.

Michael Jackson’s image was often the talk of the town. This makes Koons’ sculpture all the more controversial. People have called Koons out, saying he portrayed the King of Pop with a few overly androgynous details — fairly feminine skin, heavily lined eyes, and questionably red lips. Koons dismissed these critiques and instead stressed the purposeful position of Jackson and Bubbles — which gives the sculpture an aesthetic similar to that of Madonna and Child. Soo … yeah … happy Thursday!