Tatty nostalgia. Mike Kelley’s retrospective at the Stedelijk

Janitorial Banneral.jpgJanitorial Banner, 1984

The press release for the exhibition states that Mike Kelley is widely acknowledged as an artist who defined his era. Meanwhile, an article in the LA Times says that he is an artist few Dutch knew. Well, thank you LA Times, i feel less lonely with my crass ignorance.

Mike Kelley used found objects, textile banners, drawings, assemblage, collage, performance and video to comment on high and pop culture, youthful rebellion and American society in general.

There are stuffed toys quietly seating around a rug as if they were having a picnic. Handmade dolls have been dismembered and used to create a wall composition. There’s also a banana man, colour exercises based on asinine adult humour magazines, bird houses of various architecture styles, etc. Which sounds cheerful, except it’s not. It’s nostalgia, but a nostalgia that’s a bit dirty and bedraggled.

The exhibition was programmed in collaboration with the artist as a thematic, mid-career survey, but everything changed when Kelley committed suicide in January 2012 . The show is now a retrospective, with a more chronological shade.

I told you it wasn’t too cheerful. But it is a bold, brilliant and flamboyant show. The retrospective was for me an introduction to Kelley’s work and I definitely recommend that you brave the queue to enter the Stedelijk (well, it wasn’t very smart of me to go there on a Sunday afternoon after all) and spit the 17.50 euros to get an entrance ticket.

est15_original.jpgEstral Star #3, 1989

0ohyouthmike-kelley-1954-2012-1.jpgAh. . . . Youth!, 1991

-Displacement-Humanoid--.jpgEmpathy Displacement, 1990. Photo Lost Painters

Porno1230126.jpgMike Kelley, Naked Majas (Bettelheim’s Genital), 2008-2009

0vie659_1999440188_n.jpgPhoto of the opening at the Stedelijk museum. ©Reinier RVDA for Stedelijk

0carpet992329770_n.jpgPhoto of the opening at the Stedelijk museum. ©Reinier RVDA for Stedelijk

0Art-installation-by-Mike--001.jpgPhotograph: Evert Elzinga/AFP/Getty

0hardora_1276376868_n.jpgPhoto of the opening at the Stedelijk museum. ©Reinier RVDA for Stedelijk

0unostalgicdepictionofrl.jpgNostalgic Depiction of Childhood, 1990

0Ar_mike-kelley-amsterdam_10.jpgView of one of the exhibition rooms

0hair_original.jpgFigure II (Hair), 1989

Banana Man Costume, 1981, Collection and photo courtesy Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts_original.jpgMike Kelley, Banana Man Costume, 1981

0Kelley-Arena-7-Bears-Hi-Res-800x555.jpgArena #7 (Bears), 1990

more0014)_original.jpgMore Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages Of Sin, 1987

0Switching Marys, 2004-2005, Collectie Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo Fredirk Nilsen, courtesy Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts_original.jpgSwitching Marys, 2004-2005

0kissing13)_original.jpgKissing Kidneys, 1989

of the Animals, Animal Self, 1987, 2 Parts glued felt, 244 x 183 cms, Malmö Konsthall_original.jpgAnimal Self and Friend of Animal, 1987

0o2dancing_original.jpgDancing the Quadrille (from the Reconstructed History Series), 1989

-MUSEUM-MIKE-KELLEY-2012.PH.GJ.vanROOIJ_original.jpgPhoto: Gert Jan van Rooij

Petroom1230111.jpg0ImexpatMG_7417.jpgPhoto: I Am Expat

The Mike Kelley retrospective remains open until 1st April at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The show will then travel to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA PS1, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.