Mike Kelley’s ‘Memory Ware’ Coming to Hauser & Wirth
There will be "some surprises" in the exhibition on November 3.
Last fall, New York’s Hauser & Wirth gallery hosted its first major Mike Kelley exhibition, which featured the late artist’s Superman-inspired “Kandors,” his last major body of work. The follow-up, titled “Memory Ware,” will open at the gallery’s Upper East Side location on November 3.
It’s the first time since 2001 that the “Memory Ware” works have received their own dedicated showing. Roughly two dozen of the approximately 100 works in the series, which Kelley created between 2000 and 2010, will be featured, many drawn from private collectors and museum holdings.
The series is inspired by the “memory ware” folk art created by black communities in the American South and Victorian Britain, in which bottles and other vessels were decorated using buttons, beads, and other assorted personal objects embedded in a coating of clay. Kelley encountered memory ware bottles in 2000, when he purchased one at a Toronto antiques fair.
In addition to the exhibition, the gallery is also releasing the first book to catalogue the entirety of the “Memory Ware” works. The book, due out December 23 from through Hauser & Wirth Publishers, will feature an essay by Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s Hayward Gallery.
“Given his existing interest in remembrance and in re-purposing materials with prior histories, as well as his long-term engagement with the aesthetics of craft and folk art, Kelley recognized in this find the possibilities for developing new works that deployed the memory ware aesthetic towards very different ends,” wrote Rugoff.
The series includes the two-dimensional “Memory Ware Flats” wall works, as well as freestanding sculptures.
“This particular body of work has never been given the special attention it deserves within the broader context of Mike Kelley’s larger oeuvre,” said Marc Payot, partner and vice president at Hauser & Wirth, in an email to artnet News. “There will be some surprises in the exhibition—so few people know the ‘Memory Ware’ sculptures!”
“Mike Kelley: Memory Ware” will be on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 32 East 69th Street, November 3–December 23, 2016.
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