Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley (1954, Detroit, MI, USA – 2012, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Mike Kelley graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976 and received his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 1978, where he studied under John Baldessari, Laurie Anderson, David Askevold and Douglas Huebler.

Artist, critic and curator, Kelley was a driving force in contemporary art, working in a range of media and styles, including performance, video, photography, installation, sound works, drawing, sculpture, painting and writing. He frequently collaborated with other artists such as Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler and John Miller and from his early years was part of vivid local music scene, working with the bands like Iggy and the Stooges and Destroy All Monsters.

Kelley began his artistic journey in the late 1970s with solo performances and site-specific installations. He quickly gained prominence and became an influential figure in the art scene of the 1980s with his series of sculptures and installations made from everyday craft materials, worn-out toys, crocheted blankets, fabric dolls, and stuffed animals found at thrift stores and yard sales. Over the years, he created an incredibly diverse, deeply innovative, and often controversial body of work that was simultaneously shocking, humorous, complex, and accessible. These works established his reputation as a provocateur who could consistently make viewers feel uncomfortable and even bewildered.

Kelley drew inspiration from a wide range of sources, including philosophy, politics, history, underground music, decorative arts, and working-class artistic expression. He merged high and low forms of popular culture, examining class and gender issues, as well as themes of normality, criminality, perversion, memory, trauma, and repression.

“Mike Kelley’s brilliance was rooted in his ability to dig critically into a world of cultural productions, representations, and constructions in all their messy contradictions, using a combination of incisive wit, poetic insight and uncanny associative power.” – Ann Goldstein

The Kelley’s work has been extensively exhibited at major museums and galleries around the world, among them the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY, USA), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), The Getty Villa and Getty Center (Los Angles, CA, USA), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA, USA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA, CA) (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Tate Modern (London, UK), New Museum (New York, NY, USA) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

Kelley has been a regular participant in the Whitney Bienniale (2012, 2002, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1989, 1985), his works were represented at the Gwangju Biennale (2010), Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2001), Documenta X (1997) and Documenta IX in Kassel (1992), the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Fifth Biennale of Sydney (1984).

Mike Kelley

  • Mike Kelley - Kandor 20

    Kandor 20
    Mixed media with video
    1 Plinth w/bottle: 137.2 x 96.5 x 96.5 cm
    1 Plith w/city: 104.2 x 96.5 x 96.5 cm
    Plexi sculpture: 204.5 x 243.8 x 106.7 cm

    Mike Kelley: Kandors. Venus Over Manhattan, NYC, NY, USA 9 Nov 2016–28 Jan 2017
    Mutated Reality. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 27 Nov 2015–2 Apr 2016
    Mike Kelley, Museum Haus Lange und Mueum Haus Esters, Krefeld. 13 Mar–19 Jun 2011
    Life on Mars-55th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. 3 May–1 Nov 2008
    Jablonka Galerie, Berlin. 29 Sep–24 Nov 2007

    Catalogue “Mutated Reality”. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2016. pp. 1-4, 28-37, 62, 64
    Mike Kelley-Kandors. Hirmer Verlag, München 2010, pp. 40-41, 42-45