Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Mike Kelley, Animal Self and Friend of Animal, 1987. Glued felt, two parts; 241 x 172 cm and 244 x 183 cm. The Schyl Collection, Malmö Kontshall. Photo: Helene Toresdotte.  Courtesy Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

December 8, 2012

Mike Kelley
December 15, 2012–April 1, 2013

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents MIKE KELLEY, the first major international traveling exhibition organized by the Stedelijk since its expansion and renovation. MIKE KELLEY is the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to-date and the first comprehensive survey since 1993.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time, Mike Kelley (1954-2012) produced a body of deeply innovative work mining American popular culture and both modernist and alternative traditions—which he set in relation to relentless self- and social examinations, both dark and delirious.

Born in Detroit, Kelley lived and worked in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s until his tragic death this year at the age of 57. Over his thirty-five year career, he worked in every conceivable medium—drawings on paper, sculpture, performances, music, video, photography, and painting—exploring themes as diverse as American class relations, sexuality, repressed memory, systems of religion and transcendence, and post-punk politics. He brought to these subjects both incisive critique and abundant, self-deprecating humor.

MIKE KELLEY brings together almost 200 works, from 1974 until 2012. The exhibition, which encompasses all of the galleries in the museum’s new wing, is largely chronological, beginning with Kelley’s works from the 1970s until his most recent works, including the last work the artist exhibited before his death in 2012.

Moving through the exhibition, it becomes apparent that Kelley’s work did not develop along a purely linear trajectory. Instead, he returned time and again to certain underlying themes—the shapes lurking underneath the carpet, as it were—including repressed childhood memories, disjunctions between selfhood and social structures as well as fault lines between the sacred and the profane. The work Kelley produced throughout his life was marked by his extraordinary powers of critical reflection, relentless self-examination, and a creative—and surprising—repurposing of ideas and materials.

The exhibition is organized by Stedelijk Museum Director Ann Goldstein in cooperation with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Curator of the first exhibition concept is Dr. Eva Meyer-Hermann.

In connection with the retrospective, the Stedelijk has partnered with DelMonico Books/Prestel to release a fully illustrated 400-page publication, co-edited by Dr. Eva Meyer-Hermann and Lisa Gabrielle Mark and designed by the acclaimed Los Angeles-based graphic designer Lorraine Wild, who worked closely with Kelley over the past decade. The publication offers three newly commissioned scholarly essays by John C. Welchman, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of California, San Diego and co-director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts; Branden W. Joseph, Assistant Professor of Art History at Columbia University; and George Baker, Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, University of California at Los Angeles. The book also features Dr. Eva Meyer-Hermann’s insightful, in-depth interview with Mike Kelley, the last given by the artist; a plate section with work and project descriptions by Welchman; and an updated exhibition history, bibliography, videography and list of performances.

On the opening day of the exhibition, the Stedelijk will present a day-long symposium, Mike Kelley in Retrospective, which will bring together various expert speakers to consider Kelley’s artistic legacy. Stedelijk Director Ann Goldstein will be joined by expert speakers such as George Baker, Branden W. Joseph, Paul Schimmel, Valerie Smith, John C. Welchman and many others to share their interpretations of Kelley’s work. They will also discuss various other topics, including collaborations with Kelley, his work in the American and European context, and his engagement with music. It will take place from 10 to 4pm on December 15 in the Stedelijk’s Teijin Auditorium.

MIKE KELLEY will travel from Amsterdam to the Centre Pompidou in Paris (May 2—August 5, 2013), MoMA PS1 in New York (October 7, 2013—January 5, 2014) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (March—June 2014) (exact dates to be confirmed).

MIKE KELLEY is made possible by lead support from the Turing Foundation, with major support from Cees and Inge de Bruin-Heijn and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by All Art Initiatives. The Stedelijk Museum received the Turing Art Grant in 2009.

Rabobank is the principal sponsor of the presentation of the exhibition in Amsterdam.

Upcoming exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam:

- Guido van der Werve, Number Fourteen, Home (January 25—April 28, 2013)

- Lucy McKenzie (April 20—September 22, 2013)

- Aernout Mik, Communitas (May 3—August 28, 2013)


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Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
December 8, 2012

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