Remembering George Michael’s Contributions to Visual Art
The pop star was a big fan of YBAs.
Singer George Michael, one half of 1980s pop sensation Wham!, the duo behind the 1984 hit “Last Christmas,” died on December 25 at age 53. The cause of his death is unknown.
It’s yet another major celebrity death in a year full of them, with the world mourning the loss of musical greats such as Prince, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, and David Bowie.
In addition to his pop career, Michael was a major art collector, particularly with his former partner Kenny Goss, a Texan art dealer. The couple, whose 13-year relationship dissolved in 2009, founded Dallas’s Goss-Michael Foundation in 2007, showcasing their extensive collection of contemporary British art.
Since the break-up, Goss had been responsible for running the organization, but the two remained on good terms.
Featured in the private museum’s permanent collection are such big-artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Marc Quinn and Michael Craig-Martin. The foundation was also involved in philanthropy—a major part of Michael’s life—often hosting the annual MTV Re:Define art auction to benefit the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and its work to promote AIDS awareness, education, and prevention.
“I’m heartbroken with the news that my dear friend and long time love George Michael has passed,” Goss told Us Weekly. “He was a major part of my life and I loved him very, very much. He was an extremely kind and generous man. The beautiful memories and music he brought to the world will always be an important part of my life and those who also loved and admired him.”
The former couple has been credited with helping elevate the Dallas art scene, and the foundation is a major draw during the annual Dallas Art Fair.
“When we started,” Goss told artnet News in 2014, “there were a couple of Damiens in the whole community and now there’s a ton of them,” referring to Damien Hirst.
“It’s a truly extraordinary addition to the community,” Jeremy Strick, director at the Nasher Sculpture Center told Dallas Fort Worth.com. “To have a comprehensive collection of contemporary British artists who are extremely well-known would be a feather in the cap of any major city. One of the great pleasures in coming to Dallas was to see the ambition they have.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London in 1963, Michael formed the band Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, soon rising to the top of the charts in the UK. His hits included “Club Tropicana,” “Faith,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” and “Careless Whisper.”
In the days following Michael’s unexpected death, a makeshift shrine to the singer, full of tributes left by fans, has sprung up outside his Oxfordshire home in Goring, England.
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