AE Landscape


Acrylic on paper

34 1/16 × 61 1/4 in

In his performance Meditation on a Can of Vernors (1981), to which this drawing relates, Mike Kelley orchestrates a “meditation” on American heritage and on the relationship between aesthetics and patriotism.

According to the performance’s attendees, Kelley painted a dark mass in the manner of American painter Jackson Pollock, which he extended as he tried to clean it up, above which a minuscule landscape emerged: A.E. Landscape (a reversal of E.A., for “Early American”, and probably a reference to the abbreviation “Abstract Expressionistic Landscape”). The work recounts an epic history of the United States where the grandiose touches on the ridiculous, the sublime, and the scatological. Beneath the few centimetres of landscape lies a dark, shapeless mass that occupies almost the entire drawing, a metaphor for what we repress, one of the artist’s central themes.

The Pinault Collection first showed this work in 2023 at the Bourse de Commerce, as part of the exhibition Mike Kelley. Ghost and Spirit.