Can Michael Jackson Turn the Tide for London’s National Portrait Gallery? Hopes Are Pinned on a Blockbuster. The show may boost attendance and income for a museum facing testing times—but Jeff Koons’s sculpture of the singer with Bubbles the chimp will be a notable absence.

artnet News | Javier Pes

London’s National Portrait Gallery is already selling advance tickets for its summer blockbuster show, which examines Michael Jackson’s influence on contemporary art. The hope is that Jackson’s star power will be enough to bring in crowds—and much-needed ticket revenue—for an institution that is experiencing testing times. But when the show opens to eager audiences on June 28, one of the most iconic works inspired by Michael Jackson will be notably absent, artnet News has learned. The NPG has been unable to secure the loan of Jeff Koons’s gilded porcelain sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), despite the artist’s wish that it be included.

Last week, the Evening Standard newspaper reported that 24 members of gallery’s staff had taken voluntary buyouts. The figure represents a significant reduction for the relatively small UK national museum, which employed a total of 337 people as of March 2017. The gallery “has completed a round of both voluntary exit and voluntary redundancy to streamline our core costs and ensure we are in the best possible shape for the future,” a spokeswoman told artnet News in a statement. She declined to specify which posts had been axed or whether any of the eliminated positions were senior or curatorial roles…read more

Image: US artist Jeff Koons with Michael Jackson and Bubbles Photo Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/GettyImages.