Feb 26 2012

‘Meditations’ on the iconic women who fascinated Michael Jackson

Category: Art,Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 8:53 pm

There was quite a discussion recently on my MJJ-777 Facebook page about a particular painting that Michael acquired as part of what is called the ‘Jackson Seven‘. At least one person insists this painting reminded Michael of  a brunette Marilyn Monroe in her ‘Norma Jean’ days, since Michael had a life-size statue of Monroe in his home, as well as the name ‘Monroe‘ emblazoned on at least one jacket he wore early on. Yet others, including the Whelan Gallery itself, believe that Michael found the painting fascinating because it reminded him of Lisa Marie Presley.

I purchased a print of the painting in question titled ‘Meditations‘, and inquired as to what the gallery thought may have been Michael’s interest in the painting. Their response was as follows:

Michael Jackson didn’t make any comments about the painting to Patrick Whelan at the time, but he did speak to his associates about the painting. He indicated to them that he thought the painting resembled Lisa Marie Presley. His statements were recorded in a book by Randy Taraborrelli called “Michael Jackson, The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story” The following is an excerpt from that book on the bottom of page #730:

“Michael was mesmerized by the painting and, according to someone very close to him, said, “This is how I imagine Lisa in my mind. In fact, when I dream about her, this is how she looks. I have to have this painting”

'Meditations' by Patrick Whelan

Marilyn Monroe statue Michael had at Neverland

Victory Tour Jacket with 'Monroe' on the sleeve

In my previous article about ‘The Jackson Seven‘, Patrick Whelan also had some comments about the likeness of the painting to LMP. When someone asked him about the resemblance, Patrick replied:

Thank-you for your lovely comments about the art. I do appreciate that. Meditations was one of my personal favorite paintings, so it was particularly gratifying for me when an artist of Michael’s stature was also drawn to it. I was very slow to see the connection to Lisa Marie because, of course, I know the model who actually posed for it. Nevertheless, I have heard this from so many people, including many who have come into the gallery and seen the print there, that it is finally becoming apparent to me.

But the clincher for me occurred a couple of weeks ago when I ran across an article that was published in a newspaper in Taiwan. They featured the Meditations painting alongside three photos of Lisa Marie which had been taken at the time she was with MJ. The resemblance was indeed striking. I am now convinced absolutely that this was the reason for his connection to it. He may have been planning to show it to her, or even to present it to her as a gift. But unfortunately, he passed so soon after it’s purchase that we can never know these things for sure.

I doubt very much if Lisa Marie is even aware of it’s existence. I think it would be a very wonderful thing though, if she did see this work, because then she would know that she was still in Michael’s heart even to the end.

Perhaps one day she will see it. I certainly hope so. I really think Michael would have liked that.

Best always,


As for the jacket, a few people wondered if it had been given to Michael by someone else but according to Julien’s, it was part of his personal collection. And, Michael liked to put little symbols on his clothing such as the number ‘7’, ‘CTE’, etc. in order to keep people guessing, so it’s not certain that ‘Monroe‘ on this jacket necessarily referred to Marilyn.

In an interesting twist to this puzzle, Lisa Marie did a photoshoot (I believe in Vanity Fair but it could be another magazine) as Marylin Monroe. The pictures are quite amazing. Her hooded eyes and especially her mouth are a dead ringer for Marilyn. Some people have wondered if the picture Aphrodite Jones wrote that Michael had was actually a picture of Lisa Marie or a picture of Marilyn.

Many women have done magazine covers, photo shoots or films as Marilyn Monroe, among them Madonna, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Megan Fox, etc. Lisa Marie is yet another name on that list. I timeless icon, Marilyn Monroe is still imitated by many women and idolized by many men years after her death.

Lisa Marie Presley as Marilyn Monroe

Lisa Marie Presley as Marilyn Monroe

The photos above were shot by photographer Herb Ritts, director of ‘In The Closet‘.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Michael was intriqued by the resemblance between Monroe and Lisa Marie Presley. A lot of men liked Marilyn Monroe so why wouldn’t Michael Jackson? He was of an age to have known and remembered her well. Michael seemed to be especially fascinated with many iconic women such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana, Diana Ross (whom many insist he was in love with), the late Whitney Houston, etc., so Marilyn Monroe would be a fitting fascination for him as well. As for Marilyn’s “Norma Jean” days, Michael swooned over an early photo of Elizabeth Taylor on a magazine when “shopping” in his home movies, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he also liked early Marilyn Monroe. On the other hand, he had an interest in Lisa Marie Presley from early on as well and Lisa Marie did have that same classic beauty.

It’s possible we may never know for sure what fascinated Michael about that ‘Meditations‘ painting, which he also called ‘The Blue Painting‘; and we may never know what ‘Monroe‘ really referred to on his early jackets. My personal takeaway from this discussion is that no matter what fascinated Michael about the ‘Meditations‘ painting, it’s a beautiful painting – winsome, charming, and innocent-looking. I’m not sure where I’ll put the print I purchased, but it will be lovely almost anywhere in my home.

Here are some photos of Michael with a few of the other female icons he seemed fascinated with and/or had relationships with during his lifetime:

Michael with Elizabeth Taylor - one of his very best friends

Michael with the lovely Sophia Loren

Michael with his dear friend Lady Diana

Michael with Diana Ross, his mother/sister/lover, he had said at one time.

Michael with the late Whitney Houston whom he has recently welcomed Home, sadly.

As a compliment to this discussion about Marilyn Monroe in particular, I ran across an article about what’s called ‘The Marilyn Meme‘  No doubt many women on Facebook have seen photos of Marilyn in a bathing suit with her thighs touching and insisting one can still be “adored by thousands of men” even if their thighs touch. In other words, it’s OK to be curvier because one can still be sexy or a ‘sex symbol‘ even when heavier set. Nothing wrong with that right? Women should have a healthy self-image.

The Marilyn Meme

But Marilyn Monroe didn’t have a healthy self-image, so holding her up as a poster-girl for a healthy self-image is very inappropriate if not downright ironic. It ignores a major problem in our society that simply should not go ignored. Once Norma Jean became Marilyn the sex symbol, her humanness and intelligence went altogether ignored no doubt causing her a great deal of emotional distress and likely contributing to her depression and ultimate death. The problem remains at epidemic levels: many girls and women today are anything but healthy because they work so hard trying to win men’s approval for their appearance and “sexiness“, while completely neglecting their own emotional, spiritual, and physical health as well as their intellectual and professional development – all so that men will approve of them and how they look and find them sexually attractive.

Here’s what the article says about this dangerous ‘Marilyn Meme‘:

here’s the thing: you are worth more than what men think of you. Marilyn Monroe was, to put it mildly, very sad, very often. She was a sex symbol, and thus, stopped existing as human being, a regular girl. Almost everything that f**ked up Marilyn’s later life had to do with being “adored” by men. Men used her, or deified her (and that’s a hard come-down for those dudes when they found a human being in their bed the morning after). Political brothers purportedly passed her around like a toy. Conventional wisdom, political conspiracy aside, has it that Monroe killed herself. Being “adored by thousands of men” didn’t stop her demons from consuming her. It angers me to no end that, again, in the name of self-esteem we’re going to make a poster girl (literally) out of a woman who was notoriously down on herself.

I want very much for us to stop thinking that there is only one body type that is acceptable. I would prefer the focus be on health, rather than appearance. The Monroe Meme seems about the furthest thing from healthy. This is a woman who abused alcohol and sleeping pills later in her life, this is a woman who (probably) died due to depression. But, hey, as long as someone thinks she looks good, I guess that’s what matters.

The last sentence of this quote is obviously sarcasm and serves to illustrate the point.

As a woman, do you really want to be “adored by thousands of men” (or any man) for your looks and little to nothing else? I think it’s a healthier attitude to respect one’s self, and insist that any man appreciate you for who you are and not (just) what you look like. Because if men can’t see you as anything other than what you look like, they can’t see you. You can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone who can’t (or doesn’t want to) see you. That’s what happened to Marilyn and she ended up devalued, lonely, depressed and finally dead.  And that’s not because she had good self-esteem! Norma Jean the human being was imprisoned inside the shell of Marilyn Monroe the sex symbol and she died in there. I have always felt sad for the ‘sex symbol‘ prison she ended up in, while her humanity and considerable intelligence went all but discounted and ignored by men and society until after she was gone. What a shame and what a terrible loss.

An MJ quote about this you might want to consider:

A young lady’s physical beauty can by no means outshine the inner beauty that radiates from her heart and spirit.” -Michael Jackson (1976)

With all due respect to poor Marilyn, if a guy wants a sex symbol or a Barbie, and a woman’s looks are primarily what’s important to him, let him more appropriately go to the toy store than chasing after an actual human. What a woman thinks of herself  is more important than what any man or men think of her, particularly if the male opinion is based solely on appearance. This is a huge problem in our society. More women need to work on loving and respecting themselves enough to separate their own self-image from what men think. Otherwise, you’re inviting a lifetime of abuse, sadness, and possibly emotional and physical illness. Forget being a sex symbol and forget worrying so much about what men think. Having their approval is obviously not all it’s cracked up to be. Work on being human and demand that others accept you as such, especially men.  If they can’t – lose ’em.

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NOTE:  Hateful or abusive comments about Lisa Marie Presley or other women mentioned in this piece will not be posted. Such comments are not relevant to the subject of this article.

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7 Responses to “‘Meditations’ on the iconic women who fascinated Michael Jackson”

  1. sandra says:

    The Meditations or Blue painting is a sweet and lovely art, Michael loved it. I believe it brought him special memories and shook deep emotions and feelings kept in his heart. When you read how obsessed Michael was for this art you conclude how special it became for him. I read this was confirmed that Michael bought Meditations thinking of Lisa Marie Presley. Michael loved many people and women too but Lisa Marie was the most important and special relationship he had, he lived with her many experiences in many aspects and ways during years in his life.

  2. Joyce says:

    He really was such a special man. He loved to have fun and pull pranks, but he also loved giving and he loved peace. I think he appreciated femininity and beauty of all kinds.

  3. cris says:

    This is just my opinion, but I don’t see any truth in the belief that Michael only loved LMP as a woman. He was pure love, therefore he loved all the people for equal. I know it sounds a bit creepy, because we are expecting to see a classical love story where the hero only loves a woman for ever, but I think MJ was different. From what I observed and heard his quotes, he seemed to have loved spiritually the women he knew at one point of his life. He seemed to have been interested in the deep structure of their beings, the beauty, the magic of their hearts, the way of thinking, all the things that superficial people today don’t appreciate. I believe that because Michael admired so much these women you’ve mentioned, the press – as we know how dead-brain and superficial can be – took all these women as MJ’s physical adventures.
    Btw, besides these Jackson Seven paintings, I read somewhere he bought more paintings and stuff shortly before he passed. If someone remember what are those painting’s name, please write.

  4. cjg says:

    I don’t know – concerning the painting- perhaps it reminded him of his sweet little girl. I believe she (Paris) and he were together when he bought the paintings (Michael had quite a few other relationships/women in his life since his ex and I’m not sure how fixated on her he really was). Anyway, looking at the collection of photos of Michael and his women I think it is a testament to how Michael was one of those (somewhat rare) men who seemed to really love women. I mean he seemed to not only appreciate the vast variety of sizes and shapes of women but he seemed to appreciate all of their womanly attributes not just physical but their mental, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual qualities and their strength and respect them. A rare and beautiful creature he was indeed.

  5. Christina says:

    I knew on Blue painting time after Michael gone and really felt so sad when read MJ had bought it thinking of Lisa Marie. Some people need to find some physical resemblance between Lisa Marie and the girl of the painting forgetting that maybe it could have remembered Michael to Lisa on other deep levels not neccesary his body, face instead her soul, her heart or what she represented for him. Michael said Lisa Marie was sweet,cute,beautiful, supportive among others. What she meant for him it was not to many people. I have learned so much on Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson’s relationship during the last years and I don’t have doubts this woman rocked his world in a way and deep levels that maybe he wasn’t hoping.

  6. Joyce says:

    I have looked at the Meditations painting closely and think it could represent a young Elizabeth Taylor during her “National Velvet” years. The painting seems to be of someone very feminine and delicate and young, and that is why I don’t see a resemblance to Lisa Marie. MJ did admire Marilyn Monroe not only for her beauty, IMO, but for all she had to endure. MJ could easily relate to the frenzy that occured when she was in public. Also, underneath all the Marilyn Monroe makeup and image was a lovely, sweet person who was very intelligent. I believe MJ could see the real Marilyn, or I should say, Norma Jean Baker and could relate to her. MJ could see the sweet and sensitive angel inside of Marilyn. Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe were both “used” by the industry, and MJ knew how that felt. When others love your image but doesn’t care about the real person, it is painful.

  7. Sonja says:

    I agree with what you said in the end about the poor body image and false definitions of beauty that Hollywood and the media have forced on us women. It’s all a bunch of garbage, really, but as you said the problem continues because now Beyonce is the poster girl of beauty but if she’s so beautiful as she is why does she need to be a cover girl? Why does she have to take her clothes off to sing with such a great voice? Why is her skin tone/complexion different on EVERY magazine cover or ad she appears in? What does that say to young girls?

    I have to admit that I don’t see Lisa in those Marilyn pics you say Herb Ritts took – it would have helped to see a side by side cuz it just looks like Marilyn ( I guess the make up artist did a good job cuz I don’t see ANY Lisa Marie in there). I do, however, see her in the meditations picture. She even said that she felt they still had a connection in his later years…I hate that fame and lifestyle differences kept them apart because I truly felt that theirs was a real love. It wasn’t clear to me until I read the artist’s remarks that you were saying that MJ bought this picture close to his death. That’s deep – he loved her even then…kinda sad.