Posted in music on February 1, 2012

Mike Kelley in 1983's The Banana Man
Mike Kelley RIP

Artist Mike Kelley has passed away at his home in Los Angeles, having apparently taken his own life. The tragic news was confirmed... by Helene Winer, of New York's Metro Pictures gallery, a long-time associate of the artist.

"It is totally shocking that someone would decide to do this, someone who has success and renown and options," said Winer. "It's extremely sad." She added that the artist had been depressed.

Kelley was born in 1954 in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. He became involved in the city's music scene as a teen, and while a student at the University of Michigan, formed the influential proto-punk band Destroy All Monsters with fellow artists Jim Shaw, Niagara, and Cary Loren (a retrospective devoted to Destroy All Monsters was held at L.A.'s Prism gallery last year). Together, the band hatched a style of performance that skirted the edge of performance art...

Kelley's career took off in the early 1990s, with solo shows at the Whitney, LACMA, and other international venues. He and Oursler organized a well-recived installation -- a kind of monument to punk -- at Documenta X in 1997. In the early 2000s, he began exhibiting with Gagosian Gallery after 20 years with Metro Pictures. -[ArtInfo]

Many in the music world might also know Mike Kelley's art from the iconic cover of Sonic Youth's Dirty (Thurston Moore was also the one who released the Destroy All Monsters albums in 1994). Read more about his fruitful career at Wikipedia.

R.I.P. Mike Kelley.

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Comments (76)

Fuck.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 3:52 PM

Goddammit. Sucks.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 3:53 PM

all my prays

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 3:54 PM

they go in 3's. who is gonna commit suicide next?

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 3:57 PM

Fuckin' SWEET! More oxygen and oil for meeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! YAY! (clapclapclap)

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 3:59 PM

RIP

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:04 PM

Anon 3:59 is scum.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:07 PM

3:59 also wants your attention. And you gave it to him.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:28 PM

"they go in 3's. who is gonna commit suicide next?"

Stephen Malkmus

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:33 PM

I predict Fatty James Murphy, in the kitchen, with a half eaten donut.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:41 PM

fuck 3:59. what a piece of shit. what if that was someone in your family?

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:49 PM

James Murphy, burrito in hand, on the toilet Elvis style.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:51 PM

At least these people will die famous and loved by their fans. While most, if not all of you, will die miserable, forgotten, and alone.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:54 PM

At least he died doing what he loved: committing suicide.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 4:55 PM

Destroy All Monsters? Never heard of them or Mike Kelley. I like how we have to pretend to care or give a shit when NOBODIES like this off it.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:13 PM

Keep professing your ignorance, BV readership.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:16 PM

The only famous person who died in this troll's world is Euronymous

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:18 PM

yeah he did the cove for sonic youths dirty. how much loftier could one get?

seriously? is there anything above that?

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:22 PM

"Destroy All Monsters? Never heard of them or Mike Kelley. I like how we have to pretend to care or give a shit when NOBODIES like this off it."

You've never heard of Mike Kelley? Isn't that more of a reason to keep your fucking trap shut, you 14 year old virgin troll? Do ya homework bitch

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:28 PM

5:18 That guys definitely a trolling turd, but you shouldn't sink to his level and speak ill of the dead. Not cool.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:29 PM

Dude looks like he might've sucked a lot of dick.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:34 PM

Snarf

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:42 PM

what a shame. RIP

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 5:51 PM

fuck fuck fuck!!!

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 6:11 PM

4:54, overreact much?

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 6:11 PM

Thats pretty sad to leave rude comments when someone died.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 6:12 PM

4:54-you're probably right

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 6:13 PM

Why don't some of you people at least wiki Destroy All Monsters before you talk shit. And to 5:13...if a person off the street committed suicide, actually I and I'm sure many others WOULD give a shit. It's called being a human being. You're clearly not there yet.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 6:17 PM

It comes in 3s: It was just reported that Demi Moore committed suicide by douching herself to death while high on whippets

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 7:22 PM

454

M Kelly was hardly famous. possibly much loved and not a nobody but not exactly 'famous'.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 7:27 PM

most of you will love them next year..
http://youtu.be/qmsTcey5e20

Posted by J | February 1, 2012 8:08 PM

@7:27 He was one of the most well known visual artists in the world. His work is in major museums worldwide.

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 11:20 PM

it's unbelievable how ignorant you all are. or are you just...young?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/arts/design/mike-kelley-influential-american-artist-dies-at-57.html?hp

Posted by Anonymous | February 1, 2012 11:45 PM

In the age of Google, if you say you've never heard of someone in the public eye, we'll just shrug and know that you're just stupid and lazy. It's easier that way.

Posted by Crosseyed Sniper | February 2, 2012 12:11 AM

Meh

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:23 AM

I googled him. Not at all impressed. The art world is pretty much a joke.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:24 AM

so i guess you're all just...stupid?

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:38 AM

Yeah, lots of gallery dick got sucked. Nothing to see here.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:41 AM

Demi Moore killed herself? First Don Cornelius now this?

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:50 AM

OH NOES! Did someone whose nipples get hard over bad art call me and others stupid?

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:50 AM

yup...young, stupid...or possibly both? (gasp)

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:55 AM

this is a huge loss.
like with Alexander McQueen the world is only poorer without him in it.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 1:01 AM

Yep anyone who doesn't care what Thurston thinks is important is either young or stupid.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 1:05 AM

It's nice to see that anonymously asserting that other anonymous people are stupid is your idea of being smart.

How's about showing us that you're smart instead of just sounding like a prepubescent girl trying to defend Justin Bieber? Fill us in on your learnings from the years you spent majoring in art history before your current gig behind the counter a non-profit lesbian bookstore?

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 1:07 AM

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 1:14 AM

The annoying thing about any turd dissing a legend like Mike Kelley on a blog is that they would probably actually like his art but are too ignorant to admit they don't know anything about art or look at contemporary art.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 1:38 AM

Not Kelley Polar

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 7:42 AM

Please, post another link to the New York Times instead of making your case like the smart person that for some reason you seem to think that you are.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 8:14 AM

"@7:27 He was one of the most well known visual artists in the world."

Outside of the parochial "artworld" MK was pretty much an unknown. He may have been talented + much loved but hardly a household name, certainly not "famous".

"His work is in major museums worldwide." so what? The "major" museums are pretty much controlled by a handful of art + collectors, ie, people w money, 1%ers. Art is whatever you can get away with, Andy Warhol said that,
someone who was/is truly famous.


Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 8:44 AM

^ meant to say art dealers + collectors.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 8:46 AM

6:11: Not at all. How are you able to tell an overreaction over text. I'm just stating what I think to be true.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 9:13 AM

8:44 really nailed it

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 10:16 AM

@8:44 So what? So he is not as famous as Justin Bieber or your latest douchey indie rock star. He is still VERY famous in his field. Is that how you judge someone's accomplishments...how famous they are to the average joe? Does your average Joe know who Ian MacKaye is? How many people on the streets of most American cities would know who PJ Harvey is if you asked them? I bet if they died people would not be berating them because they are not "famous."

And to say the art world is a joke is not any more true than saying the music world is a joke. Isn't it all a matter of taste? Look at how many millions Britney Spears has raked in? Is she talented?

A lot have people have said the White Stripes are amazing. One of their performances on Conan a few years back was one of the worst things I have ever heard in my life.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 10:25 AM

Reading BV comments on someone's death is one of the most depressing things one can do. i'll say it again- BV, DISABLE COMMENTING ON RIP POSTS!!!

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 10:29 AM

Art world is a joke. It's not a matter of taste. 99% (and I don't mean that politically) of America really has no connection to the contemporary art world. Almost all music (including the music covered on here), is accessible to the average American at some level. The art scene is a pyramid scheme.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 10:56 AM

It definetly takes some cock sucking to make a living in the art world. Beware kids.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 10:58 AM

I'm still waiting for an intelligently stated argument as to why he was a great artist worthy of admiration. Asserting it, linking to obituaries or calling people stupid for disagreeing kind of make the point for me. The art world is an insular circle jerk.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:07 AM

^correct, but this suicide is great news for collectors. It makes their work more important.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:09 AM

@10:56 So contemporary art is not good because it has a niche audience? Who wants to appeal to 99% of America anyway? And yes, it is a matter of taste.

@10:58 Sheer ignorance and bitterness

None of these comments have anything to do with the fact that Mike Kelley was great and if most people on here actually saw his art in person they might actually like it.

Again, 99% of people have no idea who PJ Harvey is and probably wouldn't care much for some of her music. Does that mean she should be berated if she died? You people are tools.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:11 AM

^dude if you want to fawn over stuffed animals that's your own business, but don't expect the rest of us to be bowled over.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:15 AM

@11:15 More ignorance, that is only one part of a career that spans over 30 years

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:20 AM

^yeah that was just what he was doing in his prime? meh...

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:26 AM

Banana Man? More like The Man That Loved To Take Bananas Deep (and no, not the kind that grow on trees)

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:36 AM

9:13 am, at the time u posted, there was one rude/inappropriate comment about this man's death - your response was that most if not all of us (presumably everyone who reads this site) would die miserable, alone, etc - I think it was an overreaction, u disagree - cool, we can agree to disagree

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 11:41 AM

9:13 just broke up with his boyfriend so cut him some slack. It's hard enough being fat smelly and gay.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 12:05 PM

11:41: Maybe because nobody really could find a way to go after me seeing as though it will be true in most cases. I think you're claiming that I overreacted because a response like mine tends to ruin all the "I'm so cool, I'll even joke about someone's death like it was nothing" responses. Cool. So we disagree, no problem there.

12:05: Okay, now this time be original. Don't worry, I'll give you the extra time you'll probably need.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 2:59 PM

9:13 / 2:59 - yup, fat gay and smelly without a doubt.

Prove me wrong.

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 3:03 PM

I knew Mike Kelley for more than 20 years. He was/is a legend. And very famous. Not TMZ famous. Not People Magazine, famous, though he probably showed up in there once or twice. He was not gay and the Banana Man was not an oblique reference to sucking anything.
The Banana Man was a clown who if you were a little kid watching cartoon shows in the 50s and early 60s, you would likely have encountered. He would have made a HUGE impression on you. He wasn't a stereotypical scary clown--he was just WEIRD. With hundreds of banana appearing out of thin air along with a plethora of utterly odd things. With verbal sound effects. YouTube has a couple of videos of him. Anyway, somehow or other, Mike never saw the Banana Man, but heard all about him from everyone he knew who had, so he did this video/performance based on what he heard rather than firsthand experience. It's pretty funny.

Anyway, Rest on Peace, Mike

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 6:58 PM

658

Like 15min very famous, right ?

Posted by Anonymous | February 2, 2012 8:45 PM

We can all agree the dude took a lot of dicks. All our prays. RIP.

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2012 12:14 AM

12:14-we can all agree you're a fucking douche

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2012 3:45 PM

3:03: I'm not exactly trying to hide that I'm 9:13 or 2:59, so you're not some genius uncovering some revelation there. It's ok though. Not like anybody has any respect for you or what little respect for life you have. My condolences.


And prove you wrong? Lol! How bout you prove that those stupid claims are right Time to move out of your mom's house!

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2012 4:10 PM

Some silly comments here.

Mike Kelley was an incredibly influential artist who worked in practically every medium available...and he pushed boundaries and buttons in ways a Brooklyn Vegan troll could only dream of. Anything flippant you can say about the art world, or sexuality, he's already said it himself, and did it better, and in some cases, made millions doing it, without watering it down or commercializing the work. He's a legend.

Posted by Anonymous | February 11, 2012 6:25 AM

12:14-we can all agree you're a fucking douche

Posted by Engadget | February 13, 2012 5:01 PM

Will miss this guy...

Posted by PPC | April 10, 2012 12:32 AM

r.i.p

Posted by jordon | August 6, 2013 7:15 PM

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