Mike Kelley

Black Out (Detroit River), Detail: Panel 1

1993. Printed 1999.
C-type print on Fujicolor Professional Paper, edition 71/100
300mm x 300mm

signed M. Kelley in ink and inscribed MIKE KELLEY, (DETROIT RIVER), DETAIL: PANEL 2001/2011 and 71/100 in printed lettering on artist’s label verso

Note: This chromogenic print is accompanied by a 33rpm vinyl LP album that features music by Coldplay, Elvis, and John Cage.
Provenance

Private Collection, Denmark.

Exhibitions

Another instance included in the following exhibitions: Artists Take on Detroit, Projects for the Tricentenial, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, 19 October–31 December 2001; Mike Kelley: Blackout, Patrick Painter Inc., Los Angeles, 20 April–25 May 2011; Mike Kelley (retrospective), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2 May–5 August 2013; Mike Kelley (retrospective), MoMA/PS1, New York, 13 October 2013–2 February 2014; Mike Kelley (retrospective), MoCA, Los Angeles, 31 March–28 July 2014.

Literature

Kelley, Mike, and Anne Ponteígnie. Educational Complex Onwards: 1995–2008. Zurich: JRP/Ringier, 2008, 286–287.

Essay

The work of the American artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012) spanned a gargantuan range of media, topics, and styles. Kelley began his career as a performance artist, and throughout ...

Read full text
Estimate $2,000 - $3,000
Achieved $2,462.25

Mike Kelley

Black Out (Detroit River), Detail: Panel 1

1993. Printed 1999.

C-type print on Fujicolor Professional Paper, edition 71/100

signed M. Kelley in ink and inscribed MIKE KELLEY, (DETROIT RIVER), DETAIL: PANEL 2001/2011 and 71/100 in printed lettering on artist’s label verso

300mm x 300mm


Note: This chromogenic print is accompanied by a 33rpm vinyl LP album that features music by Coldplay, Elvis, and John Cage.

Auction N˚2

Estimate $2,000 - $3,000

Achieved $2,462.25

Black Out

by Martin Patrick

The work of the American artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012) spanned a gargantuan range of media, topics, and styles. Kelley began his career as a performance artist, and throughout the 1990s became increasingly well recognised for the breadth of his practice and a series of large-scale installations which incorporated drawings, photography, found materials, and sculptures. Kelley’s practice emerged in the wake of earlier conceptual art, and he studied with such artists as John Baldessari and Douglas Huebler at CalArts in the 1970s.

However, Kelley’s practice actively integrated references drawn from both high art and vernacular culture. He grew up in the Detroit area and was as influenced by the rock & roll of the Stooges and the MC5 as by his later fascination with psychoanalytical theory. In Kelley’s case, this made for a richly unpredictable and highly individuated practice, although he was known for collaborating with a large number of artists and musicians including Paul McCarthy, David Askevold, and Sonic Youth. Kelley was a founding member of the band/art collective Destroy All Monsters, along with Jim Shaw, Niagara (Lynn Rovner), and Cary Loren.

Kelley was an intensely curious and prolific artist, writing many performance scores and essays on art and popular culture, and taught for many years in California, where he influenced many younger artists. His work was as apt to incorporate cuddly toys and knitted afghans as it was surrealistic drawings and hard edged sculptures, but these materials were always enlisted to enact a pointed, subversive critique of normative values. As an artist who grew up in working class suburbia, Kelley was sceptical of many of the pretensions of the art world, even as he was becoming one of its most renowned practitioners.

The photograph Black Out (Detroit River) exemplifies Kelley’s ability to improvise around the various contingencies of making a creative project. Kelley created this work as part of a commissioned event entitled Artists Take on Detroit: Projects for the Tricentennial (2001). Here, his photographic response to a voyage along the shores of the Detroit River incorporates “botched” underexposed sections. Although much of the resulting image appears submerged in darkness, this speaks toward Kelley’s longstanding interest in such phenomena as hypnotism, so-called repressed memory syndrome, Rorschach ink-blot tests, and dark matter. In an artist’s statement, Kelley commented:

A technical malfunction in the camera produced images that are primarily black, with only a small strip of the film frame properly exposed. At first I was upset that all of my color photographs were unusable, then I realized that this camera malfunction was providential. … Fragments of landscape fade to black and then open up to new, alien locales. The effect is akin to falling asleep in a car and awakening on occasion to radically different vistas.

By accompanying the image with a 12-inch LP containing an eclectic group of tracks including Elvis, Coldplay, and John Cage, Kelley both lends another layer to the project and once again enlists music into his multidisciplinary practice. In many of his works, Kelley played with the notion of returning to familiar locales from childhood that, when revisited, become transformed, disorientating, defamiliarised, and uncanny.