The big touring retrospective on artist Mike Kelley will reach Los Angeles on March 31, 2014, kicking off a four-month run through July 28 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.The exhibition, launched a year ago at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and currently on view in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 affiliate in Queens, is curated by Ann Goldstein, the longtime former MOCA senior curator who served as the Stedelijk’s director from 2010 until last summer.
Encompassing more than 200 works, “Mike Kelley” will occupy all of MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary building, a former warehouse in Little Tokyo. Kelley, a Detroit native, came to Southern California for graduate studies at California Institute of the Arts and was based in L.A. throughout his subsequent career. Suffering from depression, he died at 57 in his South Pasadena home early in 2012, in an apparent suicide.
The show will document how Kelley’s work ranged through drawings, sculpture, paintings, photography, performance art, music and video. At MOCA, Kelley was included in the museum’s inaugural show in 1983, in the same venue -- then called the Temporary Contemporary -- that the coming retrospective will fill.
MOCA owns or has been promised gifts of 36 of his works. Kelley's art was featured in some of the museum’s best-remembered survey exhibitions, among them “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s” (1992) and “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981,” mounted in 2011.
“MOCA would not be the place it is without Mike Kelley. The museum grew up with him, and he with it,” curator Bennett Simpson, who’s overseeing the L.A. installation, said in MOCA’s announcement Thursday of the exhibition's dates.
The leading funder in L.A. is the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation -- part of the fruit of its now-fulfilled five-year pledge in December 2008 to provide $15 million for MOCA exhibitions over five years.
Now focused on opening his own contemporary art museum next year in downtown L.A., Broad has said he doesn’t plan to extend his pledge to MOCA. A campaign is in progress to raise MOCA’s endowment from $20 million to $100 million, a sum whose investment returns potentially could replace Broad's recent giving, and then some.MOCA said that other top supporters of the Kelley retrospective’s L.A. showing include the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts -- which last week announced a $50,000 grant for the show -- and Caesarstone, a manufacturer of quartz counters.