Must See: Mike Kelley Retrospective at MoMA PS1


Mike Kelley. Mike Kelley as the Banana Man, 1981. Courtesy of the Mike Kelley Foundation.

Upon the untimely passing of Mike Kelley in 2012, Paul Schimmel, chief curator at MOCA Los Angeles, aptly described Kelley's influence as follows:"L.A. would not have become a great international capital of contemporary art without Mike Kelley.  Of all the artists in the 1980s, he was the one who really broke out and established a new and complex identity for his generation."- LA Times

On display until February 2nd in New York at  PS1 MoMA is a comprehensive look at Kelley's 35 year art career.   The exhibition exemplifies Kelley's inhibited journey through a variety of artistic mediums.  From drawing and painting to film and photography, the artist confronts social constructs, personal demons and defies limitations by leaving no medium and few topics untapped.

Born in Detroit, Mike Kelley was a pioneer in the now thriving Highland Park art scene.  This exhibition, the largest in PS1 history since 1976, is also a nod to the early swell of creative energy from outskirts of Los Angeles that is now acknowledged as a new wave in art.   Kelley's own comment about his infinite and explosive work serves as path of entry for future artist: “My entrance into the art world was through the counter-culture, where it was common practice to lift material from mass culture and ‘pervert’ it to reverse or alter its meaning… Mass culture is scrutinized to discover what is hidden, repressed, within it.”