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Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley

United States • Born in: 1954

​Master Artists

American artists

Mike Kelley is an American visual artist born in 1954 in Detroit and died in South Pasadena in 2012.

Coming from a modest family - his father was a maintenance worker and his mother a cook in the Ford Motor staff restaurant - he grew up in Detroit, the city of music par excellence. This musical richness nourishes his artistic fiber, giving him a taste for the spectacle. As a teenager, Mike Kelley turns to punk and anti rock, and notably becomes a member of the group "Destroy All Monsters".

In order to pursue art studies, he left his hometown for Los Angeles where he joined the California Institute of the Arts. Complete artist, curious, and nourished since childhood by the musical “shows” of the groups of Detroit, he then worked on numerous projects - “The Sublime”, “Monkey Island”, “Lincoln's Profile”, “Plato's Cave” - for which he resorts to drawing, sculpture, painting, writing, spectacle or performance. At the same time as this artistic production, he joined a new group, "The Poetics", definitively inscribing his style in a punk culture and approach. Mike Kelley then becomes one of the essential artists of the American West Coast of the 1980s.

Mike Kelley addresses, through his plastic work, themes of a philosophical, psychological, literary and social nature. The complexity and richness of his artistic production illustrates his bubbling personality. Sexuality, perversion, criminality, social class, memory, individuality, education, childhood ... So many subjects brilliantly treated by this whole and provocative artist. It is difficult to identify a common thread in Kelley's work as it is so rich. Overall, he works quite frequently on the principle of causality. How does a child's trauma participate in the construction of an adult individual? How do the stories fit together to create a unique situation? So many questions that Kelley addresses through performance, painting, collage, drawing and writing.

Mike Kelley died in 2012. He was found dead at his home in Los Angeles.

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Who is the artist?

Mike Kelley is an American visual artist born in 1954 in Detroit and died in South Pasadena in 2012.

Coming from a modest family - his father was a maintenance worker and his mother a cook in the Ford Motor staff restaurant - he grew up in Detroit, the city of music par excellence. This musical richness nourishes his artistic fiber, giving him a taste for the spectacle. As a teenager, Mike Kelley turns to punk and anti rock, and notably becomes a member of the group "Destroy All Monsters".

In order to pursue art studies, he left his hometown for Los Angeles where he joined the California Institute of the Arts. Complete artist, curious, and nourished since childhood by the musical “shows” of the groups of Detroit, he then worked on numerous projects - “The Sublime”, “Monkey Island”, “Lincoln's Profile”, “Plato's Cave” - for which he resorts to drawing, sculpture, painting, writing, spectacle or performance. At the same time as this artistic production, he joined a new group, "The Poetics", definitively inscribing his style in a punk culture and approach. Mike Kelley then becomes one of the essential artists of the American West Coast of the 1980s.

Mike Kelley addresses, through his plastic work, themes of a philosophical, psychological, literary and social nature. The complexity and richness of his artistic production illustrates his bubbling personality. Sexuality, perversion, criminality, social class, memory, individuality, education, childhood ... So many subjects brilliantly treated by this whole and provocative artist. It is difficult to identify a common thread in Kelley's work as it is so rich. Overall, he works quite frequently on the principle of causality. How does a child's trauma participate in the construction of an adult individual? How do the stories fit together to create a unique situation? So many questions that Kelley addresses through performance, painting, collage, drawing and writing.

Mike Kelley died in 2012. He was found dead at his home in Los Angeles.

When was Mike Kelley born?

The year of birth of the artist is: 1954