The era-defining works of Mike Kelley (1954–2012) encompass painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation, performance, music, video, photography, collaborative works and critical texts. Moving between high and low culture, they punch in the face our preconceptions of identity and sexuality.
At the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam the largest ever exhibition of his work is currently on view, comprising over 200 works spanning the artist’s 35-year career. After the artist’s tragic death in early 2012, “his remarkable oeuvre was suddenly complete, and so this exhibition, which was being planned with his direct participation, became a retrospective in the full sense of the word,” states Ann Goldstein, director of the Stedelijk.
Organized mostly chronologically, Kelley fills virtually all of the 1792-square-meter temporary exhibition space in the new building of the expanded Stedelijk. The exhibition is masterfully curated and the sequence of rooms, with their own stories and moods, constitute a journey through Kelley’s world. “Mike Kelley’s brilliance was rooted in his ability to dig critically into a world of cultural productions, representations, and constructions in all their messy contradictions, using a combination of incisive wit, poetic insight and uncanny associative power,” Goldstein writes.