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Mike Kelley (1954 - )

Book cover of Mike Kelley: The Uncanny (2004) - Mike Kelley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Mike Kelley cover for Dirty (1992) - Sonic Youth [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Mike Kelley has by many art critics been seen as one of the most influential artists that emerged from the west coast art scene in the United States in the beginning of the nineties. He has been widely known foremost for his installations with stuffed animals, textile banners and carpets but his practise is far wider and includes drawings, objects, assemblage, collage, performance and video.

Mike Kelley was born in Wayne, Michigan, a suburb to Detroit in 1954. He was brought up with the city's dynamic music scene that created such bands as Iggy and the Stooges. He moved to Los Angeles in 1976 where he attended Cal Arts and started to work on a series of projects in which he explored quite a loose or poetic theme, such as "The Sublime", "Monkey Island" and "Plato's cave, Lincoln's Profile", using a variety of different media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, performance and writing. Kelley started to get wide recognition outside Los Angeles in the mid-eighties with the sculptural objects and installations from the series "Half-a-Man" and have since then exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world and participated in major art events such as Documenta 9. Of his major solo shows can be mentioned his retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1993.

Kelley's work is inspired by as diverse sources as history, philosophy, politics, underground rock music, decorative arts and working-class artistic expression and some critics would characterize his art as lowbrow or abject art. His art often takes up class and gender issues as well as issues of normality, criminality and perversion. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Kelley [Feb 2005]


Considered to be one of North America's most influential artists, L.A. artist Mike Kelley has done it all. He's worked in the realms of performance art, sculpture, painting, music (Destroy All Monsters, the Poetics) and writing. Highly revered, Kelley has had his fair share of controversy throughout his career. The cover art he provided for Sonic Youth's 1992 album Dirty came close to garnering them infamy with its alternately cute and surprising depictions involving home-made stuffed animals. --http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_03.09.00/arts/artsweek.html [Nov 2004]


Mike Kelley, Los Angeles-based sculptor, performance and installation artist, is one of the most significant artists working today. Hard to categorise, Kelley has dissected the moral and cultural conventions and practices of contemporary society with deadpan humour in performances, installations, architectural models, paintings, drawings and music. The Uncanny is the first large-scale solo show devoted to the artist in the UK since his survey exhibition at the ICA, London in 1992. The exhibition is based on a project originally curated by Kelley more than a decade ago, which has been revised and updated for Tate Liverpool in close collaboration with the artist.

Sigmund Freud described the uncanny as ‘a hidden, familiar thing that has undergone repression and then emerged from it’. In The Uncanny, Kelley explores memory, recollection, horror and anxiety through the juxtaposition of a highly personal collection of objects with realist figurative sculpture. --http://www.tate.org.uk/liverpool/exhibitions/kelley/ [Aug 2004]

The Uncanny (1919) - Sigmund Freud [...]

This essay, first published in 1925, was translated by Alix Strachey. This is one of Freud's most extended pieces of 'literary criticism.'

Uncanny [...]

Peculiarly unsettling, as if of supernatural origin or nature; eerie. See Synonyms at weird. --American Heritage Dictionary

Foul Perfection

Foul Perfection - Mike Kelley, John C. Welchman (Editor)[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The 17 essays of this collection may prove the most significant set of artist’s writings since Robert Smithson’s posthumous Collected Writings appeared in 1996. Kelley, a Los Angeles-based artist, is best known for his ironic, politically acidic, often hilarious reconfigurations of cultural tropes, particularly as they have filtered through art and commerce (as when Kelley added breasts to the Native American icon of Land O’ Lakes butter). From the brilliant juxtaposition of a still from On the Waterfront with one from Blade Runner to a trenchant discussion of Douglas Huebler’s riff on Edward Hicks’s early 19th-century painting The Peaceable Kingdom, Kelley is rarely short of inspiring in his willingness to follow the consequences of artistic choices, formal and otherwise, into unexpected places. For example, in his essay "Death and Transfiguration," Kelley declares that Paul Thek’s "amazing wax effigy of himself: a striking hippie in permanent fixed decay" is "a pink raspberry shitsicle" made in response to the "porcelain-white vanilla bar" of Walt Disney’s own frozen corpse. A theory of the Uncanny; commentary on everyone from Marcel Broodthaers and Öyvind Fahlström to Baby Huey and the New York Dolls; an analysis of the use of Pepto-Bismol in the work of Korean-American artist Cody Hyun Choi; a comparison between what he sees as the art world’s control of art history and the Reagan/Bush capture of the corporate media—with 34 black-and-white illustrations to help support these and other arguments, this collection makes a strong case that the best art is "not interested in what’s not us." --From Publishers Weekly

Mike Kelley: The Uncanny (2004) - Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley: The Uncanny (2004) - Mike Kelley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Taking Freud's idea of the Uncanny as a starting point, artist Mike Kelley plays Sunday curator and presents work by Jasper Johns, Paul McCarthy, Jeff Koons, Tony Oursler, and others (reprinted from a 1993 catalogue), plus photos of chewing gum wrappers, postcards, record covers, and toys, all connected to ideas of youth and the Uncanny. Essays by Mike Kelley, Christoph Grunenberg. Paperback, 8.25 x 11.25 in. / 200 pgs / 150 color.

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