West Coast artist Mike Kelley was one of the most provocative and influential figures in contemporary art. Kelley's idiosyncratic body of work includes performance art, installations, and sculptures. His works negotiate a highly charged terrain of desire, dread and sociopathology in everyday American life. With deadpan humor, he often reinvests childhood toys, kitsch, and ordinary objects with subversive meaning.
For many years Kelley was involved in video projects as performer, collaborator, and maker. Among his collaborators are important figures in art, performance, film and video, including Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Ericka Beckman, Tony Oursler, Tony Conrad, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, and Bruce and Norman Yonemoto. As a performer, Kelley exhibits a psychodramatic intensity; his collaborative video projects inhabit a peculiarly American landscape infused with irony and pop cultural debris.
Mike Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan and died in 2012. Kelley earned a B.F.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts. In 2013, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam organized Kelley's most comprehensive survey to-date, which will travel to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA PS1, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 1993, a retrospective of Kelley's work was exhibited at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Haus der Kunst, Munich. A 1997 retrospective was organized by the Museu D'art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain, and traveled to the Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden, and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Kelley's Mobile Homestead, 2010, a permanent artwork and public sculpture developed with the London-based organization Artangel, is located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
Kelley's numerous one-person shows include those at Musée du Louvre, Paris; The Tate Liverpool, England; Wako Works of Art, Tokyo, Japan; Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the Basel Kunsthalle, Switzerland. His work was featured in Documenta IX and Documenta X, Kassel, Germany, and in exhibitions at the New Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Watari-um, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanae, Italy; Hayward Gallery, London; and Musee d'art Contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Sculpture Center, New York. Kelley is represented in the collections of the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum für Moderner Kunst, Vienna; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles among others. He received awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Skowhegan Medal for Mixed Media. Kelley lived in Los Angeles.