Mike Kelley (b. 1954)
City 5
resin, electrical hardware and wood veneer on wood
58¼ x 23 x 23 in. (148 x 63.5 x 63.5 cm.)
Executed in 2007. This work is a unique variation from an edition of five. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
Jablonka Galerie, Berlin
Berlin, Jablonka Galerie, Mike Kelley: Kandors, September-December 2007, p. 15 (illustrated).
Museum Haus Lange and Krefeld, Museum Haus Esters, Mike Kelley: Kandors, March-June 2011 (another example exhibited).

Lot Essay

Mike Kelley's works begin with the artist's interest in social connections created through various forms of pop culture media. By identifying, investigating and engaging the seemingly narrow and specific themes inherent to different interest groups, comic book collectors and enthusiasts in the case of City 5, Mike Kelley ultimately teases out the greater mythos and substance for our assessment. Whether it's his intention or not, Kelley is able to unite and elevate the alienated or misunderstood sectors of the general population and reveal to the otherwise uninitiated a reason to look deeper and appreciate sources of information that are otherwise discounted.

City 5 is a work from Kelley's Kandor series. Each work within the series is a unique and vibrant rendering of the mythical city of Kandor illuminated in colored resin and glass depicting altogether different and multiple renderings of Superman's birthplace.

"The popular Superman story recounts the adventures of an alien being sent to Earth as a baby to survive the complete destruction of his home planet Krypton. His Alien makeup gives him extraordinary powers on Earth that he chooses to use for the good of mankind. As the plot line unfolds, it turns out that Kandor, Superman's city of birth, was not destroyed. It ends up in his possession, reduced in size and kept inside a bell jar in his Fortress of Solitude where it functions as a constant reminder of his past and as a metaphor for his alienated relationship to the planet he now occupies." (Mike Kelley as quoted in Mike Kelley: Kandors, Cologne, 2010, p. 53).

Though Kelley denies any particular interest in the Mythos of Superman it is difficult to believe this to be true; the Superman story is ripe as a substitute for religious messianic themes, a favored subject of the artist. The object of Kelley's fascination may be the city of Kandor and primarily it's elusive and ambiguous nature; but it also seems clear that the scale of City 5 is specifically designed to put the viewer in Superman's boots, leaving us to contemplate the trajectory of life through an intimate encounter. This radiant city is both familiar and unfamiliar, beautiful and kitsch; decidedly not unlike a Jesus nightlight produced for mass consumption.

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