Artist Mike Kelley Dead in Apparent Suicide

Influential American reportedly depressed after breakup

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 2, 2012 10:32 AM CST

(Newser) – Influential American artist Mike Kelley was found dead yesterday at age 57, in what police say appears to be a suicide. A friend told investigators he had been depressed following a recent breakup, the New York Times reports. Kelley specialized in large-scale pieces, often incorporating sculpture, video, or performance, and his work tended toward what the art world terms "abjection"—a preoccupation with visceral, shocking, gross-out imagery. He's been featured extensively in gallery shows, and will be included in the upcoming Whitney Biennial. One of his pieces was also used as the cover of the Sonic Youth album Dirty in 1992.

A man interacts with 'Adaptation: Test Room Containing Multiple Stimuli Known to Elicit Curiosity and Manipulatory Responses', an instillation by Mike Kelley, at the Hayward Gallery in London.
A man interacts with 'Adaptation: Test Room Containing Multiple Stimuli Known to Elicit Curiosity and Manipulatory Responses', an instillation by Mike Kelley, at the Hayward Gallery in London.   (Getty Images)
A visitor looks at a work by US artist Mike Kelley 'Kandors full set 2005-2009' on show during the opening of the Punta della Dogana in Venice on June 3, 2009.
A visitor looks at a work by US artist Mike Kelley 'Kandors full set 2005-2009' on show during the opening of the Punta della Dogana in Venice on June 3, 2009.   (Getty Images)
A woman walks through Mike Kelley's 'Test Room Containing Multiple Stimuli Known to Elict Curiousity and Manipulatory Responses.'
A woman walks through Mike Kelley's 'Test Room Containing Multiple Stimuli Known to Elict Curiousity and Manipulatory Responses.'   (Getty Images)
Visitors look at American artist Mike Kelley's artwork titled Kandor City 3 at the Yokohama Triennale art exhibition in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011.
Visitors look at American artist Mike Kelley's artwork titled "Kandor City 3" at the Yokohama Triennale art exhibition in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
This undated image provided by Walker Art Center/Gagosian Gallery shows artist Mike Kelley.
This undated image provided by Walker Art Center/Gagosian Gallery shows artist Mike Kelley.   (AP Photo/Walker Art Center/Gagosian Gallery)
A visitor admires Mike Kelley's Memory Ware Flat # 2 during a pre-sale viewing of modern art works that are scheduled to be auctioned at Sotheby's, April 23, 2008.
A visitor admires Mike Kelley's Memory Ware Flat # 2 during a pre-sale viewing of modern art works that are scheduled to be auctioned at Sotheby's, April 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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