* 1954 Detroit/Michigan
† 2012 Los Angeles/California
Mike Kelley is regarded an important post-war object-, performance- and installation artist.
Mike Kelley was born in Detroit/Michigan in 1954. He completed his studies with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1976, and transferred to the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia to complete his master. Until 1978 he studied with John Baldessari, an important representative of Conceptual art.
In 1977, While Mike Kelley still attended university, he began to play in a punk band together with his friend, the artist Tony Oursler. A year later Mike Kelley showed his first public performance.
Mike Kelley began making his famous objects and installations as of 1986: He collected items such as old dolls, stuffed animals, blankets and other flea market goods and used them for his works. Mike Kelley uses the trivial and harmless objects for installations that illustrate society's hidden fears and desires by means of confusion.
Dualisms have substantial influence of Mike Kelley's art. In 1988 he made an installation for which he used pictures painted by a murderer combined with 42 posters with quotes and portraits of famous poets and thinkers: High culture and human abyss lie close to another.
In the 1990s Mike Kelley became popular in a short period of time. In 1992 and in 1997 he participated in the Kassel Documenta, in 1993 the renowned Whitney Museum of American Art in New York showed a retrospective, in 1995 the Haus der Kunst in Munich followed.
Today works by Mike Kelley are represented in numerous important museums, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen. Mike Kelley died in Los Angeles in 2012, presumably by his own hand.