15
15
Mike Kelley
MEMORY WARE FLAT #29
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 1,689,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
15
Mike Kelley
MEMORY WARE FLAT #29
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 1,689,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Mike Kelley
1954 - 2012
MEMORY WARE FLAT #29
signed, dated 2001 and numbered 29 on the reverse
mixed media on board
178.4 by 118.1 by 10.2 cm. 70 1/4 by 46 1/2 by 4 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Jablonka Galerie, Cologne

Skarstedt Gallery, New York

Private Collection, New York

Sotheby's, New York, 11 November 2015, Lot 2

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Cologne, Jablonka Galerie, Mike Kelley: Memory Ware, June - September 2001, p. 73, illustrated in colour

New York, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, The Other Side, May - July 2006

New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Mike Kelley: Memory Ware Flats, July - August 2007

New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Mike Kelley: Memory Ware Flats, September - October 2012

New York, Hauser & Wirth, Mike Kelley: Memory Ware, November - December 2016, p. 143, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Since his tragic death at the beginning of 2012, Mike Kelley’s influential body of work has been widely re-evaluated and revisited for its lasting impact on Conceptual art. Memory Ware Flat #29 is notable amongst this oeuvre for its phenomenal visual magnetism and perfect encapsulation of Kelley’s primary themes. It is an exemplar of this artist’s heterogeneous cache of diverse forms; a profoundly moving and visually enchanting paradigm of Kelley at his most raw and immediate self. 

Initiated in 2000, Kelley’s Memory Ware project references the genre of Canadian folk art of the same name, where decorative items such as beads, buttons, shells, and pieces of costume jewelry cover common household objects coated with a claylike plaster. Seeking to revitalise and personalise cast-off objects and discarded materials by assembling sentimental keepsakes, the tradition of memory ware invokes a distinctly kitsch nostalgia. In his densely layered and deeply alluring Memory Ware Flat #29 from 2001, Kelley adopts this practice and reinterprets it through his own twisted vernacular to reflect his interest in biography and memory as communicated through references to varied historical art movements. Mining such materials for their pure pictorial potential, Kelley evades the saccharine by subverting the emotional value of memory that people invest in inanimate objects and cheap kitsch keepsakes.

To construct his Memory Ware paintings, Kelley filled rectangular-shaped wooden frames with a coloured tile grout in which he scattered an accumulation of materials. Intricately encrusted in a dispersed array of brightly coloured, garishly 'low' culture items such as pins, timepieces, and sparkling plastic beads, Memory Ware Flat #29 produces an intensely psychedelic, swirling effect in the exhilarating topography of its dense relief. The present work's notable concentration of antique political campaign buttons and wristwatches emphasises its preoccupation with time – histories past and lives lived. At varying shapes, scales, and concentrations, Kelley’s clusters avoid compositional focus and instead opt for a dynamic all-over mosaic-like surface.

Beneath the glimmer and sheen of the painting’s surface lurks a deeper sense of alienation and psychological grit. Interested in the communication of fractured and fabricated narratives, much of Kelley’s own memory, assumed biography and childhood trauma is in fact invented by the artist – we are unable to disentangle the layers of factual and fictional psychological anxieties that imbue the work with immeasurable complexity. Growing up in Detroit, Kelley was fascinated by the many dissident and alternative subcultures lurking in Middle America. The artist was both a participant and a commentator in the cultural conventions and constructions that he navigated through his labyrinthine body of artwork. A member of several punk bands throughout his youth, Kelley brought this interest in subversion with him to graduate school at CalArts in 1978, where he absorbed the school’s dogmatic focus on Conceptual art and theory under the guidance of teachers like John Baldessari, Laurie Anderson and Douglas Huebler.

The late Mike Kelley was a radical shape-shifting maverick, an art-world anarchist who has found international acclaim over the past quarter-century for his riotously eclectic, stinging inquiries into class, psychological trauma and popular culture in Middle America. Persistently revelling in between the boundaries of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, Kelley’s diverse body of work powerfully interrogates perceptions of value.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London