Artists

Mike Kelley
1954–2012


Audio

  • Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Spanish

    Mike Kelley, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin, 1987

    Mike Kelley, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin, 1987

    0:00

    Narrador: La obra More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid de Mike Kelley está hecha de peluches, mantas de crochet y otros objetos artesanales.

    Mike Kelley: Eran todos objetos usados que compré en tiendas de segunda mano y ventas de garaje. Y son todos objetos hechos a mano. No son el tipo de cosas que se venden, son el tipo de cosas que se regalan.

    Narrador: La superficie de la obra está repleta de objetos amontonados, lo que indica un deseo casi compulsivo de llenar el plano del cuadro. A Kelley le interesaba la enorme cantidad de tiempo que le llevó a la gente crear estos objetos artesanales.

    Mike Kelley: Genera un efecto acumulativo. Si te parece que estas cosas representan el amor, entonces es una cantidad gigante de amor. Si te parece que estas cosas inducen a la culpa o a la necesidad de compensar, entonces es más de lo que alguna vez podrías retribuir. Así que, dependiendo de tu punto de vista, puedes verlo como algo súper adorable o súper espantoso. Y, la verdad, la gente lo ve tanto de una forma como de la otra. Es decir, alguna gente siente un verdadero rechazo y a otra gente le fascina.

    Narrador: Kelley combinó esta obra con la pieza que está en el piso, llamada The Wages of Sin.

    Mike Kelley: Es el tipo de escultura que haría un adolescente en la habitación donde fuma marihuana, o algo por el estilo. Y titularlo The Wages of Sin (La remuneración del pecado), le da ese matiz casi morboso, como una especie de seudorritual.

    Narrador: En los años sesenta, muchos artistas cobraron interés en la repetición y acumulación como técnicas casi mecánicas que le restaban importancia al rol de la expresión individual. En More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid y The Wages of Sin, Kelley cuestiona ese impulso. Al usar estos materiales, la acumulación no se ve simplemente como más de lo mismo. En cambio, genera capas de asociaciones, sentimientos y significados.  

  • Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019

    Mike Kelley, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin, 1987

    Mike Kelley, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin, 1987

    0:00

    Narrator: Mike Kelley’s work More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid is made out of stuffed animals, afghans, and other craft objects.

    Mike Kelley: They were all used items that I bought at thrift stores and yard sales. And they're all handmade objects. So they're not the kind of objects that would generally be sold—they’re the kind of objects that would be given away.

    Narrator: The work’s surface is tightly packed with objects, suggesting an almost compulsive desire to fill the picture plane. Kelley was interested in the huge amount of time it took people to make all of these craft objects.

    Mike Kelley: It had an accumulative effect. If you saw these things as representing love, then it was a massive amount of love. If you saw the things as being inducers of guilt or repayment, then it was more than you could ever pay back. So depending on your point of view, you either see it as super-lovable or super-creepy. And you know, so people tend to see it either way. Like, some people are really repulsed by it, and some people love it to death.

    Narrator: Kelley paired this work with the piece on the floor, called Wages of Sin. Like More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid, Wages of Sin is a massive accumulation of a material we don’t usually associate with high art—candle wax.

    Mike Kelley: [It’s] like the kind of sculpture that a teenager would make in their pot smoking room. And by titling it The Wages of Sin, it gives this kind of morbid teenage overtone, you know, some pseudo-ritualistic kind of thing.

    Narrator: In the 1960s, many artists became interested in repetition and accumulation as almost mechanical techniques that downplayed the role of individual expression. In More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid and Wages of Sin, Kelley questions that impulse. With the materials he uses, accumulation doesn’t result in just more of the same. Instead, it creates layers of association, feeling, and meaning. 



Images and Permissions

Sunrise

Sunset

A 30-second online art project:
Kristin Lucas, Speculative Habitat for Sponsored Seabirds

Learn more