Mike Kelley, Renowned L.A. Artist, Passes Away

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Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 2:26 PM
click to enlarge Early works by Kelley at MOCA's "Under the Big Black Sun" exhibit - CAROL CHEH
  • Carol Cheh
  • Early works by Kelley at MOCA's "Under the Big Black Sun" exhibit

Los Angeles is now one brilliant mind short, as legendary artist Mike Kelley has been found dead, his gallery confirmed.

Born in 1954 in a suburb of Detroit, Kelley received his MFA from CalArts in 1978, made his work and home primarily in L.A. and grew to become an internationally renowned artist.

Kelley wasn't just an artist -- he was a rock star, a writer, a curator and even appeared in the occasional film. He had solo shows at the Whitney, LACMA and the Hirshhorn and was represented most recently by the blue-chip Gagosian Gallery, though he continued to make work rooted outside the white cube, as in his 2010 video installation about Burning Man, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, a collaboration with Mike Smith.

click to enlarge A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, an installation at Kelley's Eagle Rock studio - FREDERIK NILSEN
  • Frederik Nilsen
  • A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, an installation at Kelley's Eagle Rock studio

In addition to his sculptures, installations and other types of works, Kelley was especially known for crossing over into music, especially as a member of the band Destroy All Monsters, and the group's fresh aesthetic and unconventionality reflected much of the work Kelley would go on to do. One of the wackier moments in his career was when he played in a band backing French theorist Jean Baudrillard reciting his poetry at the Chance Festival at Whiskey Pete's Casino in Nevada.

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