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A Cheat Sheet about Mike Kelley and His Supreme Collaboration
Because there is much more to talk about than new skate decks and hoodies...
Art Stuff 09 Sep 2018

His album art for Sonic Youth made the band iconic, but Mike Kelley was so much more as an artist. He brought stuffed animals into the realm of sculpture, interviewed great noise artists for epic, historical video art (which is at the Pompidou in Paris) and is known for his enduring voice in the art world.

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Now, the streetwear brand Supreme is teaming up with Kelley’s estate for a series of hoodies, sweaters, jackets and skateboards emblazoned with the artist’s work. Taking imagery from Kelley’s “Reconstructed History” series, drawings and stuffed toy mugshots are now on the brand’s pieces – the best has to be the toy mugshots on the backs of jackets, though. As Kelley told Interview magazine before his death in 2012, his art did have a connection to monstrosity and the absurd. “Although I don’t think of my work as being specifically concerned with the monstrous, I think my work is more about structural interplay-I entertain many kinds of subjects in it,” he said. This series is sure to sell out.
To have more to talk about than just about the motifs of his newly launched, skate decks, we have got you covered with a cheat sheet about Kelley and his legacy.
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  • The relationship with his parents (mum apparently a control freak) was difficult. In high school, he once wore a dress from thrift store, just to upset his parents
  • Kelley incorporated found objects – most famously, soft toys – into many of his works. Often sourced from thrift stores, these objects added a distinctive chapter to the history of the readymade in contemporary art, whose origins lie in the practices of Dadaists such as Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters.
  • Reocurring topics were sexuality, shame, childhood, memory
  • Kelley’s use of the found object became a key component of the trend towards abject themes in the contemporary art of the late 1980s and 1990s.
  • Gathering diverse found materials from a wide variety of sources, Kelley acted as a cultural anthropologist.
  • Kelley frequently collaborated with Sonic Youth and created the artwork for their seminal 1992 album Dirty.

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Photos via Supreme

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