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Mary Kelly

Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than The Real Thing

March 20, 2024January 1, 1970

Whitney Museum of American Art

This image illustrates a link to the exhibition titled Mary Kelly in <br><i>Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than The Real Thing</i>

Member Previews: March 14 – 18, 2024
Open to the Public: March 20, 2024

Mary Kelly premieres a new, multi-paneled work entitled Lacunae (2023) in the 2024 Whitney Biennial, Even Better Than the Real Thing, curated by Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, and Meg Onli, Curator at Large, with Min Sun Jeon and Beatriz Cifuentes. Opening March 20, 2024, the Whitney Biennial features 71 artists and collectives and explores the fluidity of identity and form, historic and current land stewardship, and concepts of embodiment.

In a series of intimate collages, Kelly has combined her personal calendars with drawings in ash on vellum. Her age juxtaposed with those of deceased friends suggests an imaginary countdown, replayed as the gaps accumulate and the activity of real-time fades. The work evokes an incremental sense of loss that shapes the subjectivity of late life, but is often unacknowledged, or naturalized as the “normal course of things,” and remains outside of representation, unlike the experiences of loss during the AIDS epidemic or the Covid pandemic, which have found forms of expression in a broader cultural context.

Lacunae is the first part of an extended project in which Kelly has returned to the close-up, autobiographical narrative, and found materials, because, like Post-Partum Document (1973-79), the field of inquiry is defined by quotidian events. At the same time, the new work acts as a bookend to the documentation of her passage as a witness to the evolving politics of a generation of feminists.

About the artist

Mary Kelly’s work has been the subject of major exhibitions at ICA, London (1976 and 1993); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1977); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge University (1986); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1990); Vancouver Art Gallery (1991); Generali Foundation, Vienna (1998); Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2001); Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2008); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); Whitworth, Manchester (2011); Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2019); De La Cruz Gallery, Georgetown University (2022).

Kelly has been included in the 1991 and 2004 Whitney Biennials, Whitney Museum, New York; Documenta 12, Kassel, 2007; 1982 and 2008 Biennales of Sydney; and Desert X Biennial, 2019. In 2015, she was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Kelly received the 2012 Anonymous Was a Woman Award and the 2024 Creative Capital Award. Her publications include Post-Partum Document, University of California Press,1998, Rereading Post-Partum Document, Generali Foundation, Vienna,1999, Imaging Desire, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1996, Mary Kelly’s Concentric Pedagogy: Selected Writings, Bloomsbury, London and New York, 2024. Currently, she is Judge Widney Professor in the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California.

Kelly’s work is represented in numerous public collections, including Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MOCA, Los Angeles; Arts Council of Great Britain; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum London; Zurich Museum, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Australian National Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery; and Manchester Art Gallery. Kelly’s archive was acquired by the Getty Research Institute in 2017.