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  • Mike Kelley's Nazi War Cave up 25% on estimate
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • Kelley'sMikeNaziWar

Mike Kelley's Nazi War Cave up 25% on estimate

Highly influential artist Mike Kelley's Nazi War Cave #1 has seen top bids in Los Angeles Modern Auctions' October 12 sale.

Mike Kelley Nazi War Cave
The drawing originally lined the walls of a cave-like insulation, which visitors were required to crawl through



Kelley, whose has been described as "one of the most influential American artists of the past quarter century" killed himself in 2012, and his work has been met with strong results at auction since as testament to his popularity and importance. He is revered among collectors as the artist that led Los Angeles' recent art revival.

Nazi War Cave #1 was produced for Kelley's 1985-1986 installation Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile - one of his most celebrated works. It sold for $750,000 - up 25% on its $600,000 high estimate.

The installation saw Kelley playing with Plato's parable of the cave and material forms, with paintings hung so low that guests had to crawl to access certain parts of the exhibit.

"WHEN SPELUNKING SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO STOOP…. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO ON ALL FOURS… SOMETIMES EVEN CRAWL….CRAWL WORM! !" Reads one of the works, now housed in the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

It was accompanied by a performance poem that was later published as a book, which Kelley read over 55 minutes at Artists Space, New York on December 5, 1985 backed by Sonic Youth. He described it as the "longest and most elaborate" of his poems.

The work is seen as a transitional point in Kelley's career, when he shifted from performance art to installation.

Kelley is perhaps best known for his work using found objects, such as the huge Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, a collection of stuffed toys sewn together that MoMA bought for more than $4m.

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  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • Kelley'sMikeNaziWar