Positing cerebral concepts from psychology, philosophy, and art theory against kitschy craft mediums, awkward adolescent scenarios, and rudimentary renderings, Mike Kelley’s oeuvre works against art’s hierarchical history as it expands its breadth. His 2005 project, “Day Is Done,” is a massive, amorphous collection of works in diverse media that reconstruct purported “repressed memories” of generic high–school activities as recorded in anonymous yearbook photographs. He scrutinizes moments of ritual and tradition by restaging scenes common in American adolescence, such as school dances and Halloween activities, investigating the moral and experiential subtexts of these events in the process.
Mike Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan, and died in 2012 in Los Angeles, California. He received his B.A. in 1976 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his M.F.A. in 1978 from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. Recent solo exhibitions include “Categorical Imperative and Morgue,” Van Abbemuseum, Stedelijk, The Netherlands (2000); “Sod and Sodie Sock (w/Paul McCarthy),” Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, Institut d’art contemporain, France (2003); “Mike Kelley–The Uncanny,” The Tate Liverpool, England (2004, traveled to MUMOK, Museum of Modern Art, Vienna); “Profounders vertes,” Musée du Louvre, Paris (2006); “Day is Done Judson Church Dance,” Judson Memorial Church, New York (2009); “Themes and Variations from 35 Years,” The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2012); “Mobile Homestead,” Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Michigan (2013); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013); “An Homage to Mike Kelley,” MoMA PS1, New York (2013); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2014).