Back in the 1990s, Michael Jackson phoned French photographer Pierre Commoy and painter Gilles Blanchard — better known as Pierre et Gilles — to place an order for 70 portraits.
The King of Pop was eager for his own opulent icon, perhaps having seen the duo’s fairytale depictions of Madonna as a flute-toting Japanese divinity or Boy George as the Hindu god Krishna.
But Jackson had failed to understand the labor of love that went into each image, requiring the construction of a three-dimensional theatre set, built from scratch, with details meticulously hand-painted on each photograph after it is printed.
“Like many others, I think he assumed we did everything in Photoshop,” said Blanchard, one half of the partners-in-life-and-art, whose production has never exceeded 20 portraits a year. “So we sadly had to refuse.”