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b. 1941, Fort Dodge, IA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA

Mary Kelly’s practice spans more than four decades and encompasses ideas about the body, systems of classification and power, memory, and history. Based in Los Angeles, she is best recognized for her large-scale narrative installations, including Post-Partum Document, 1973 – 79.  Kelly’s projects frequently blend personal and political issues of gender, identity, and collective memory, so as to visualize the impact of historical events on the nature of everyday life.  Kelly’s work has been central to discussions of Conceptual art and feminism since the 1970s, and her writings have been requisite to the discourse of postmodernism. Her current project, Circa Trilogy, which continues the exploration of generational and historical themes, has been undertaken with the support of 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

Kelly was born in Iowa in 1941 and lives and works in Los Angeles.  She graduated with a BA in Art and Music from College of Saint Teresa, an MA in Studio Art and Art History from Pius XII Institute in Florence Italy, a Postgraduate Certificate in Painting from St. Martin’s School of Art in London, and an Honorary Doctor of the Arts from University of Wolverhampton, England.  

Kelly’s work has been shown internationally as the subject of solo shows at The Maria & Alberto De La Cruz Gallery at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (2022); The New Hall Art Collection in Cambridge (2018); The Tate Britain in London (2013); Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2010); The Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw (2008); Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte in Mexico City (2004); The Generali Foundation in Vienna (1998); Galerie Paula Böttcher in Berlin (1997); The Institute of Contemporary Art in London (1993); and The New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York (1990). Kelly is a 2024 recipient of the “Wild Futures: Art, Culture, Impact” Award from Creative Capital.

She has participated in a number of group exhibitions and biennials, including Whitney Biennial (2024); To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood at ICA Boston (2022-23); The Condition of Being Addressable at ICA LA (2022); American Women: The Infinite Journey at Galerie Valérie Bach in Brussels (2020); Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011 at MoMA in New York (2019); An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2017); Women and Work at the Tate Modern in London (2016); Le Grande Madre at Palazzo Reale in Milan (2015); Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2014); Ends of the Earth at MOCA Los Angeles (2012); This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s at MCA Chicago, ICA Boston, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2012); The Deconstructive Impulse at Nasher Museum, Dallas, CAM Houston, and Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, NY (2011); Wack! Art and Feminist Revolution at MOCA Los Angeles and PS1 in New York (2007); Sydney Biennale (2008), Documenta 12 (2007), and The Whiney Biennial in New York (2004).

All images © Mary Kelly.