Mike Kelley. Foul Perfection. Essays and Criticism

The 17 essays of this collection may prove the most significant set of artist’s writings since Robert Smithson’s posthumous Collected Writings appeared in 1996. Kelley, a Los Angeles-based artist, is best known for his ironic, politically acidic, often hilarious reconfigurations of cultural tropes, particularly as they have filtered through art and commerce (as when Kelley added breasts to the Native American icon of Land O’ Lakes butter). From the brilliant juxtaposition of a still from On the Waterfront with one from Blade Runner to a trenchant discussion of Douglas Huebler’s riff on Edward Hicks’s early 19th-century painting The Peaceable Kingdom, Kelley is rarely short of inspiring in his willingness to follow the consequences of artistic choices, formal and otherwise, into unexpected places. For example, in his essay “Death and Transfiguration,” Kelley declares that Paul Thek’s “amazing wax effigy of himself: a striking hippie in permanent fixed decay” is “a pink raspberry shitsicle” made in response to the “porcelain-white vanilla bar” of Walt Disney’s own frozen corpse. A theory of the Uncanny; commentary on everyone from Marcel Broodthaers and Öyvind Fahlström to Baby Huey and the New York Dolls; an analysis of the use of Pepto-Bismol in the work of Korean-American artist Cody Hyun Choi; a comparison between what he sees as the art world’s control of art history and the Reagan/Bush capture of the corporate media—with 34 black-and-white illustrations to help support these and other arguments, this collection makes a strong case that the best art is “not interested in what’s not us.”

Text: Welchman John C.. pp. 208; 34 ills.; paperback. Publisher: M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, 2002.

ISBN: 9780262611787| 0262611783

ID: AM-7633

Product Description

The 17 essays of this collection may prove the most significant set of artist’s writings since Robert Smithson’s posthumous Collected Writings appeared in 1996. Kelley, a Los Angeles-based artist, is best known for his ironic, politically acidic, often hilarious reconfigurations of cultural tropes, particularly as they have filtered through art and commerce (as when Kelley added breasts to the Native American icon of Land O’ Lakes butter). From the brilliant juxtaposition of a still from On the Waterfront with one from Blade Runner to a trenchant discussion of Douglas Huebler’s riff on Edward Hicks’s early 19th-century painting The Peaceable Kingdom, Kelley is rarely short of inspiring in his willingness to follow the consequences of artistic choices, formal and otherwise, into unexpected places. For example, in his essay “Death and Transfiguration,” Kelley declares that Paul Thek’s “amazing wax effigy of himself: a striking hippie in permanent fixed decay” is “a pink raspberry shitsicle” made in response to the “porcelain-white vanilla bar” of Walt Disney’s own frozen corpse. A theory of the Uncanny; commentary on everyone from Marcel Broodthaers and Öyvind Fahlström to Baby Huey and the New York Dolls; an analysis of the use of Pepto-Bismol in the work of Korean-American artist Cody Hyun Choi; a comparison between what he sees as the art world’s control of art history and the Reagan/Bush capture of the corporate media—with 34 black-and-white illustrations to help support these and other arguments, this collection makes a strong case that the best art is “not interested in what’s not us.”