Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mike Kelley's Thrift Shop Reality


In the realm of art history it's definitely not out of the ordinary to research dead artists. However, it can be a bit jarring when the artist in question has died so recently, and not of natural causes. Mike Kelley's suicide in 2012 shocked and saddened the art world. He was credited as being one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. His queer brand of thrift shop/basement art makes us question the reality of domestic settings.

One of Kelley's most favorite mediums was the teddy bear:

More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid, 1987

Above is a tapestry that Kelley created out of teddy bears, crochet, and other domestic/thrift shop items. The mix of high and low culture in the museum setting causes us to ponder the meaning of these items. Are they utilitarian? ie: does their role as toys make them a useful object. Is play even useful to us? Placing them on a wall also forces us to consider their aesthetic qualities. The placement of crochet (which is often seen as a feminine craft) in a museum also challenges the artistic value of craft, and why it is not seen as high art. 

In this Art 21 video clip Kelley discusses his reputation as a bad boy. He probably wasn't a bad boy, but that's what the media made him out to be. Kind of like Pollock. I guess the media just can't handle an artist's "real" personality if it doesn't mesh with the kind of work that they produce. His suicide fits only too well with what the media wanted him to be.

Click here to learn more about Mike Kelley on Artsy!

1 comment:

  1. Weird stuff but it's cool how he works across mediums. Its nice to find an artist that doesn't just stick to the one thing they think they are good at...and instead attacks each project as it best fits with a medium. This guys seems to have done that. Really unfortunate death -- so much more to be done!

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