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Mary Kelly (artist)

Mary Kelly
Born 1941 (age 73–74)
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Movement Conceptual art

Mary Kelly (born 1941)[1] is an American conceptual artist, feminist, educator, and writer.[2]

Mary Kelly has contributed extensively to the discourse of feminism and postmodernism through her large-scale narrative installations and theoretical writings.[1] Kelly’s work mediates between conceptual art and the more intimate interests of artists of the 1980s. Her work has been exhibited internationally[3] and she is considered among the most influential contemporary artists working today.[4] Mary Kelly is Professor of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is Head of Interdisciplinary Studio, an area she initiated for artists engaged in site-specific, collective, and project based work.[5] Mary Kelly is represented by Postmasters[3] in New York and Rosamund Felsen Gallery[6] in Los Angeles.


  • Work 1
  • Selected exhibitions 2
  • Selected publications 3
    • By the artist 3.1
    • On the artist 3.2
  • Public collections 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Kelly is known for her project-based work in the form of large-scale narrative installations. Post-Partum Document[7] (1973–79) is a process-based work, which uses objects of both personal and theoretical significance to document the mother-child relationship. Gloria Patri[8] (1992) draws on an archive of found material from the first Gulf War to question how the violence of international events affects or is affected by individual lives.[9] In her monumental work, Interim[10] (1984–89), Kelly deals with collective memories of women. Its object is to specify the discourses that define and regulate feminine identities.[11] In the Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi[12] (2001), panels of lint, formed in a domestic dryer, are joined together to form undulating waves that tell the story of a child abandoned during the war in Kosovo. As part of this work, Kelly commissioned the composer, Michael Nyman to create a score for the ballad that was performed by soprano Sarah Leonard and the Nyman Quartet at the opening of the exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art[13] For Love Songs[14] (2005), Kelly enlisted the help of young women interested in the philosophies and legacies of the women’s movement to restage historical photographs of protests some thirty years after they were taken. Her “remixes” are just approximate enough to allow for real differences between versions, but similar enough to suggest literal and metaphorical continuities.[15]

Selected exhibitions

She has had major solo exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Institute for Contemporary Art, London. Recent exhibitions include documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the 2004 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, Australia and most recently in Mary Kelly: Projects, 1973-2020 at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, UK.[16]

The first three parts of her influential work Post-Partum Document (1973 - 7) were shown at the [20]

Selected publications

By the artist

  • Post-Partum Document, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983, reprint, English and German, Generali Foundation, Vienna and University of California Press, Berkeley, 1998
  • Imaging Desire, MIT Press, 1996
  • Pecunia Olet, Top Stories, New York 1989

On the artist

  • Rance, Victoria 'Mary Kelly: Projects, 1973-2010' n.paradoxa Volume 28 July 2011 pp. 80-87.
  • Mary Kelly: Words are things, (catalog) and Mary Kelly: On fidelity, (conference papers), Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2008
  • Mary Kelly, Espacio AV, Region de Murcia, 2008
  • Mary Kelly: La balada de Kastriot Rexhepi/ Musica original de Michael Nyman, (catalog), Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2004
  • Rereading Post-Partum Document, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 1999
  • Mary Kelly, Phaidon Press, London, 1997
  • Social Process Collaborative Action: Mary Kelly 1970-1975, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, 1997
  • Mary Kelly: Gloria Patri, (catalog) Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University and Ezra & Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University
  • Mary Kelly: Interim, (catalog), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 1990.
  • Richmond, Susan. "From Stone to Cloud: Mary Kelly’s Love Songs and Feminist Intergenerationality". Feminist Theory 11.1 (2010): 57-78. Print.

Public collections

Kunsthaus, Zurich, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansa, Santa Monica, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Arts Council of Great Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Australian National Gallery, The Tate Britain, London, the [20] London, New Hall, Cambridge University, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Helsinki City Art Museum, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Colorado University Art Museum, Bard College, New York, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

See also


  1. ^ a b Iversen, Margaret, Douglas Crimp, and Homi K. Bhabha. Mary Kelly, London: Phaidon, 1997. Page 146.
  2. ^ Walker, John A. Art and Outrage: Provocation, Controversy and the Avant-garde., London: Pluto, 1999 page 83
  3. ^ a b Postmasters Gallery NYC Postmasters,
  4. ^ "Mary Kelly: Four Works in Dialogue 1973-2010". Moderna Museet. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  5. ^ University of California, Art Department,
  6. ^ 'Rosamund Felsen Gallery''"'". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ Bonham, Charlotte, and David Hodge.The Contemporary Art Book, London: Goodman, an imprint of Carlton Publishing Group, 2009. Page 129
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Sandler, Irving. Art of the Post Modern Era, New York: Harper Collins, 1996, p 400.
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ Kraus,Chris, Jan Tumlir, and Jans McFadden. LA Artland, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2005, p 103.
  14. ^ [5]
  15. ^ Burton,Johanna. Mary Kelly Postmasters, New York: Art Forum, January, 2005.
  16. ^ Victoria Rance 'Mary Kelly: Projects, 1973-2010' vol.28 July 2012 n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal pp.80-87
  17. ^ a b Ian White, The Body Politic, Frieze, May 2007.
  18. ^ New Museum archive "Mary Kelly: Interim". 
  19. ^ Richmond, Susan. "Stop Frame, Rewind, Push Forward: Mary Kelly's Love Songs", Art Papers, July 2008. Retrieved on 2010-06-23.
  20. ^ a b "Mary Kelly artist biography". Tate. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 

External links

  • Artist website
  • Christopher Miles, Mary Kelly: Santa Monica Museum of Art - Los Angeles, ArtForum, March 2002.
  • Holland Cotter, Art in Review, The New York Times, April 9, 1999.
  • John A. Walker, Mary Kelly at Institute of Contemporary Arts (1976) - Can dirty nappies be art?. Excerpt from Art & Outrage, 1999/2010.
  • Rosadoras Schreibwelt, [6]
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