Mike Kelley's 'Cave' drawing comes to LAMA at $600,000

Nazi War Cave #1, a drawing from one of Mike Kelley's most influential projects, is set to sell at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on October 12.

Mike Kelley Nazi War Cave
The drawing originally lined the walls of a cave-like insulation, with viewers forces to crawl through

The drawing hails from 1985, created as part of the Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile series, and is one of ten such works that explores themes of truth versus illusion.

Filled with text and imagery, the work highlights Kelley's role as "a pungent commentator on American class, popular culture and youthful rebellion," as he was described by Holland Cotter in the New York Times following his death in 2012.

The 'Cave' series was part performance poem, which Kelley read over 55 minutes at Artists Space, New York on December 5, 1985 backed by Sonic Youth. He described is as the "longest and most elaborate" of his poems.

"My language usage in artworks is not just babble. Often there are jokes on certain critical or historical issues - and that can be seen if one reads closely," said Kelley of his work in an 1999 interview.

It is expected to sell for $400,000-600,000.

"L.A. would not have become a great international capital of contemporary art without Mike Kelley. Of all the artists in the 1980s, he was the one who really broke out and established a new and complex identity for his generation," says Paul Schimmel, an expert on Kelley's work.

As testament to Kelley's importance, another drawing from the Plato's Cave collection is permanently housed in the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art.

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