American artist Mike Kelley was found dead this morning at his home in South Pasadena, California. Police believe that Mr. Kelley committed suicide. He was 57.
Sgt. Robert Bartl of the South Pasadena police department said that an autopsy would be performed before a cause of death is made official. Bartl said that Kelley had been depressed due to a recent breakup with his girlfriend.
Artist John Miller, who has known Kelley since 1978, said:
“His suicide came as a complete shock to me. I haven’t felt this way since 9/11. There is a sense of unreality. He is one of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said that it would take six to eight weeks to complete a toxicology report.
The SF Gate reports that Kelley’s works are included in more than 30 public collections at venues like the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His most expensive piece, a room-size installation filled with stuffed creatures, sold at auction for $2.7 million.
Helene Winer, partner in New York’s Metro Pictures gallery, said:
“He is one of the leading and most influential artists. (Mike Kelley) broke down the distinctions between different forms of art. He was very intense, had a lot of energy, was extremely serious and very productive.”
Here’s a video of Mike Kelley talking about his “bad boy” persona.