Published  10/06/2004

Michael Jackson forcibly removed

Not the person, but the portrait of Jackson by Maggi Hambling (perhaps an opportunistic choice of subject by the artist) was rejected by the Royal Academy's 'Summer Exhibition', following distaste expressed by Anthony Green - who holds no little sway behind closed doors. Both the President, Philip King, and David Hockney (joint curator of the show) supported Hambling - but the Presidential casting vote was not used to keep Hambling's portrait of Jackson in. Internal politics in the RA had a bearing on Allen Jones' lining up with Green (Jones is co-curator with Hockney). Fresh from disputes at Aldeburgh and her memorial, 'The Scallop' to Sir Benjamin Britten, Hambling can be forgiven for a strain of martyrdom, not unlike that which characterises this painting (a brilliant exercise in portraiture). Which is why we may well soon see this portrait in the National Portrait Gallery instead. It is the Royal Academy's true loss.

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