Mike Kelley (1954–2012)

Ahmanson Building, Level 1
February 11, 2012–March 11, 2012

In tribute to Mike Kelley, two works on paper from the museum's collection are on view in the Ahmanson building, near Art Catalogues bookstore. Kelley was born in Wayne, Michigan, and moved to the West Coast in the late 1970s to attend graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Many artists of the time chose to launch their careers in New York, but Kelley stayed in Los Angeles, where his own artistic output–as well as his teaching and mentorship of countless other artists–helped establish the city as an art capital. He created paintings, performance art, noise music, sculpture, drawings, videos, and installations. Always drawn to the undervalued and underground elements of cultural production, he also spent years developing complex, interconnected bodies of works that examine institutional power and repressed memory.

Image: © Mike Kelley, Wallflowers, 1988, Painting, Acrylic on paper, 71 3/4 x 60 in. each, Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Awards in the Visual Arts Program, Contemporary Art Department.

Step Across the Line: Mike Kelley, 1954–2012

Last week, we installed in the Ahmanson Building two works from our collection by Mike Kelley as a humble tribute to the recently deceased artist. News of Kelley’s passing hit the art scene—here and abroad—with a forceful, unexpected shock. Innumerable artists that I’ve met over the years trace some if not all of their formative interest in art to Kelley. Just this week I spoke with an artist whose allegiance to the written word as a component of her practice was deeply shaped by the artist...