Ode to Kelley

Supreme pay homage to renowned artist and Sonic Youth-collaborator Mike Kelley
By Finn Blythe | Fashion | 8 September 2018

Following his death in 2012, American artist Mike Kelley left an inimitable legacy of work, spanning a diverse range of mediums including folk traditions and found objects – his work became a running discourse on issues of American class, popular culture, perversion and youthful rebellion.

Kelley’s significance in the American arts cannot be understated and prompted The New York Times to refer to him in his obituary as, “one of the most influential American artists of the past quarter century”. Now, Supreme have teamed up with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts on a new capsule collection that pays homage to some of the artist’s most iconic works.

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From More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid to The Wages of Sin, Ahh…Youth!, and the Reconstructed History series, Kelley’s renowned opus comes to life via skateboards, work jackets, shirts and sweats. Many of the works featured refer to Kelley’s use of found objects, particularly toys and stuffed animals, which he either used across canvas or assembled into unkempt sculptures, sometimes suspended from the ceiling as in  Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites (1991–99), in which Kelley took a typically satirical line against what he perceived to be the elitism of expressionist art.

Elsewhere, the artist’s dissenting charm and self-deprecating attitude comes across via his annotated edition of the Empire State Building, transformed, via some universally familiar doodles, into a gigantic ejaculating phallus. There’s more of Kelley’s explicit amendments but the collaboration centres on his use of found objects, which, together with his anarchic live performances and video installations, resonated with the emergent DIY ethos of punk movements throughout the 1970s and 80s. So much so, that he frequently collaborated with Sonic Youth and created the artwork for their seminal 1992 album Dirty.

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Supreme x Mike Kelley is available in-store NY, Brooklyn, LA, London, Paris and online September 6th. Available in Japan on September 8th.

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