Mar 28 2012

Albert Watson Photo Inspired Michael Jackson’s Invincible Cover

Category: Art,Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 7:00 pm

Albert Watson photo that inspired the cover of 'Invincible'

According to Karen Faye, Michael’s make-up artist and hair stylist for several decades, this Albert Watson photo is what inspired the ‘Invincible‘ cover.

Karen says she had done Michael’s makeup and hair all in gold similar to the photo above for the photoshoot for the Invincible cover. But after Sony altered it, it looked nothing like they had intended. After someone located this photo, Karen tweeted:

Yes. That was the photo that inspired the shoot with Michael. You can see why MJ liked it.

What prompted the search for the photo was that she had shared previously, in response to another question:

The Invincible cover (the head shot) was retouched into something that was no where near the original photo shot by Albert Watson. I had painted Michael gold and he was wearing a hairpiece that was completely gold. I was very disappointed at what Sony did to the photo. The original photo was quite amazing.

She also added:

Photo shoots were always a collaboration by all the artists involved…all inspired by Michael. It was a magical event. The closest feeling I have had, to that “artistic happening”, since Michael has died, is when I work with David LaChapelle. You know you are a part of creating artistic history.

It must have been incredibly fascinating creating artistic history with Michael. I wonder where the original un-altered photo that Michael and Karen had worked on is located, and if we’ll ever see it. In my personal opinion, the cover of ‘Invincible‘ would have been much more interesting had Sony left the photo as intended. They should have left art to the artists, and simply done their bit to promote the work, instead.

As we know, below is what the cover instead ended up looking like. Not bad, but certainly not as rich and captivating as as it might have been if it had been left in its original, golden form.


Invincible Cover inspired by an Albert Watson photo, but altered by Sony such that it looked much different than intended.

Below, the uncropped Invincible cover. Imagine it golden like the first photo above.

Uncropped Invincible cover. Imagine it golden.

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{ Thanks as always to Karen Faye for generously sharing these priceless memories with us. -Seven }

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8 Responses to “Albert Watson Photo Inspired Michael Jackson’s Invincible Cover”

  1. Sina says:

    Thanks Seven. I read your previous articles and remember the controversy.
    Good to have sources who know what actually went on and that it is on record.
    As time goes by it becomes even more important to have accurate information for a truthful representation of Michaels life and history.

  2. Seven says:

    Yes, I think it is an insult to Michael and those who worked on that photoshoot and on the concept – the artists – for Sony to override their work and decide for them what the cover would be. Seems like they turned it into “pop-art” because that’s probably what Sony wanted. They should have stuck to promoting the album.

    Yes, Michael hated those Bani photos. So did Sony. If they were ever considered for the Invincible cover, that’s why they weren’t used, no doubt. Arno Bani, when putting his book of them up for sale, didn’t tell the whole story behind the photos either, which you can read more about here: and here:

    Bani’s marketing hype left a lot out. I guess if people knew Michael and Sony hated them, they wouldn’t want to buy his book. And, if they knew Michael spent time in a make-up chair being molested by a gay make-up artist to have them made, they might not want them either. Michael’s friends had to run interference to keep the gay make-up guy away from him in the hotel, apparently.

    So much for the rumor that Michael was gay – he was obviously not – though they all apparently got a kick out of the guy’s antics!

    Michael hated the Bani photos so much so that according to Michael Lee Bush, he destroyed the negatives and insisted they not be released. It’s Bani’s right to release them as the “artist“, however if Michael were alive, you can bet they’d never have been publicized, so IMO, his publication of them was disrespectful. He could have at least been more truthful about the photos. But I guess if he had, his book wouldn’t have sold as well.

    Bani says he hid the photos away in a vault in France, evidently just waiting to pounce on the opportunity to sell them as an “exclusive never-before-seen” set, while conveniently failing to state exactly why they were “never-before-seen“.

    Bani was bound by contract to keep the photographs out of public view for 10 years and kept them locked in a safe in southern France. The blockade expired three weeks after Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009. “We decided to take our time,” the photographer said. “We didn’t want to drown in everything that was being unearthed for sale following his death, to surf that somewhat morbid wave.”

    As for the gold un-retouched Albert Watson Invincible cover, if the photographer or Sony decides to release the originals, I hope they are more truthful and respectful about it than Bani was.

  3. Sina says:

    Very interesting to hear this about the Invincible cover.
    Imo the Invincible photo lacks the essence of Michael because for a close up portrait his characteristic features, the shape of his eyes and his jaw line are missing. If it had not been on the cd it could have been anyone else.
    Its an insult to an artist in Michaels league or to any artist that a record company decides how you look on your own album.
    But knowing now what Sony is capable of doing to Michaels music, I am not surprised they could do this to his image.
    I would like to hear what the photographer thinks of the photoshopping of his work.
    I hope the original photos pop up sometime like the Bani photo’s did.
    Wasnt that shoot also intended for the Invincible cover and didnt make it because Michael didnt like the photo’s.
    Seems like the concept of both shootings was more or less the same, with the gold shine.

    Here is an article about that shoot and Bani talking about why his photos didnt make it because the record company blocked them.

  4. Paula says:

    Love the picture for which MJ was inspired by…..I love the album Invincible, but most definitely at the point in time of this album the whole relationship has soured with MJ and Sony.
    He has so much more to give~ Miss you MJ! Thanks Seven…love to get your blogs..Paula

  5. Cynthia Kent says:

    Michael worked so long and hard on putting this beautifull album together…Some of his very best work. Sad but not surprising that Sony would under promote not only the “musical genius” but the “artistic” genius” as well. I too would have loved to see the original version!

  6. Mado says:

    I would love to see the original picture! Thank you Seven for this informative article.

  7. Anna Leticia says:

    That’s a shame…:( A completely golden head of Michael. I can see it in my mind.
    One more reason for Michael to be upset about Invincible, for sure…
    It doesn’t matter because he had a real GOLDEN HEART!!!

  8. Betty Byrnes says:

    This is fascinating. Would totally LOVE to see that original picture of MJ in gold. It would be just like Sony to minimize MJ’s art. They didn’t do any PR on Invincible and an amazing cover album cover like that would have help sell an album they were not promoting.