Remembering Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley, acclaimed installation artist and musician, has died at the age of 58, of an apparent suicide. Born in 1954 in the suburbs of Detroit, Kelley founded the proto-punk rock band Destroy All Monsters with Cary Loren, Niagara, and Jim Shaw; the group quickly became notorious for stage antics verging on performance art. Known for accentuating the extreme, the repulsive, and the abject within his work, critic Jerry Saltz termed Kelley’s aesthetic a “clusterfuck.” Associated with New York-based Metro Pictures Gallery for two decades, Kelley began showing with Gagosian in the early 2000s, and has had major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, LACMA, and the Louvre. His work will be featured in the upcoming Whitney Biennial.

In 2009, Interview editor Glenn O’Brien sat down with Kelley, an artist whose aesthetic he appraised as “Joseph Beuys meets James Brown, or Marcel Duchamp meets The Contortions,” to discuss Kelley’s punk-rock pedigree, his obsession with Superman’s native city of Kandor, and the disappearance of the avant-garde. To commemorate Kelley’s untimely passing, we’re revisiting it today.