Stuffed animals and models of science fiction cities are among an eclectic collection of works in a retrospective of the late American artist Mike Kelley at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
Curators began assembling items for the show in 2008 along with Kelley but had to finish it without him after his death in 2012, aged 57.
Bennett Simpson, the curator at MOCA, said this is a very special exhibition: “I think his work pulls back the curtain, lifts up the carpet, opens the basement door, and is not afraid to look at very difficult things. Social things, political things, things about gender, things about popular culture, things about class, things about religion, he’s really one of the artists that holds a mirror up to American culture in particular.”
Along with fellow artist Jim Shaw, Kelley helped form a second generation of post-war Los Angeles artists in the wake of Ed Ruscha’s pop paintings and the conceptual art of John Baldessari – who was in fact Kelley’s teacher.
Kelley is best known for his work with objects that evoke and question memories from youth, such as his 1987 piece ‘More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and the Wages of Sin’ – a collection of stuffed animals and dolls next to a table of candles.
His death came as a shock to the whole art world.
The exhibition first went on show in Amsterdam, Paris and New York before coming home to Los Angeles.