Mike Kelley (artist)

Mike Kelley (artist)
Mike Kelley's Frankenstein, 1989

Mike Kelley (born 1954 in Detroit, Michigan, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.) is a contemporary American artist. Kelley's work involves found objects, textile banners, drawings, assemblage, collage, performance and video. He often works collaboratively and has done projects with artists Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler and John Miller. Kelley is often associated with the concept of abjection.[citation needed].


Life and work

Kelley was born in Wayne, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit in 1954. In his early years he was involved with the city's music scene which spawned bands such as Iggy and the Stooges, Kelley was a member of the noise band Destroy All Monsters. In 1976 Kelley graduated from the University of Michigan. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and attended the California Institute of the Arts, where he admired the work of his teachers John Baldessari, Laurie Anderson, David Askevold and Douglas Huebler. At that time he started to work on a series of projects in which he explored works with loose poetic themes, such as The Sublime, Monkey Island and Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile, using a variety of different media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, performance and writing. Kelley started to gain recognition outside Los Angeles in the mid-eighties with the sculptural objects and installations from the series Half-a-Man and has since exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide[citation needed] and participated in events such as Documenta 9. Sonic Youth featured his work on the cover and booklet of their 1992 record Dirty.[1] The Whitney Museum in New York City held a major retrospective of his work in 1993.

In November 2005, Kelley staged Day is Done, filling Gagosian Gallery with funhouse-like multimedia installations, including automated furniture, as well as films of dream-like ceremonies inspired by high school year book photos of pageants, sports matches and theater productions.[2] In December 2005, Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz described "Day is Done" as a pioneering example of "clusterfuck aesthetics," the tendency towards overloaded multimedia environments in contemporary art.[3]

Kelley was also in the band Poetics with fellow California Institute of the Arts students John Miller and Tony Oursler.[citation needed]

Kelley's work is inspired by diverse sources such as history, philosophy, politics, underground music, decorative arts and working-class artistic expression. His art often examines class and gender issues as well as issues of normality, criminality and perversion.[citation needed]

A selection of representative works

  • "Mike Kelley at Skarstedt", 2010 [4]
  • "Haim Steinbach on Mike Kelley" at Overduin and Kite, 2008 [5]
  • "Mike Kelley's Proposal for the Decoration of an Island of Conference Rooms (with Copy Room) for an Advertising Agency Designed by Frank Gehry", 1992, Public Art
  • "Heidi", 1992, Video (in collaboration with Paul McCarthy)
  • "Pay for Your Pleasure", 1988, Installation
  • "Half-a-Man", 1987–91, Series of objects, drawings and installations


2008 Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International [1]


  1. ^ "DIRTY". Sonic Youth official website. Retrieved on 23 January 2010.
  2. ^ Davis, Ben. "I Want My Mike Kelley". Artnet.com. Retrieved on 23 January 2010.
  3. ^ Saltz, Jerry. "CLUSTERFUCK ESTHETICS". Artnet.com. Retrieved on 23 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Mike Kelley at Skarstedt, 2010". http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/2010/05/mike-kelley-at-skarstedt/. 
  5. ^ "Haim Steinbach on Mike Kelley, 2008". http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/2008/11/haim-steinbach-on-mike-kelley-at-overduin-and-kite/#more-535. 

External links

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