John Kelsey is an author and co-founder of the gallery Reena Spaulings Fine Art in New York. A member of the artist collective Bernadette Corporation, he is interested by the formation of identity since the Internet age, specifically how artists evoke the dynamics of commodity society by trying to wield their name in the public domain. Hyperactive networking and communication has become the social norm for today’s society, and Kelsey questions the role of art within such a digital community.
Kelsey is best known for his writings on ArtForum, having risen to prominence for his salacious and controversial articles, for example The Kelsey Collection Artforum 2004-2012. In 2010, Sternberg Press published Rich Texts: Selected Writing for Art, a collection of Kelsey's critical writing previously published in Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, Parkett and artists’ catalogues, and edited by Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw. John Kelsey writes not just about the context of an artwork, but the issues raised by, or which arise out of the work itself.
Kelsey's engagement with contemporary art has taken many forms. Watercolour is a popular medium for Kelsey, a medium that has almost been relegated outside the mainstream. His watercolours are mounted onto sheets of opaque Plexiglas; sometimes they are reproduced as digital prints on transparent "static cling" vinyl film and then mounted. Constituting an exploration of the large corporations that control our networked society, the artist’s oeuvre exemplifies the way in which humanity communicates with the made notion of cyber networking. Initially appearing to be simple and unassuming, Kelsey’s watercolours are articulated in a free and deceptive way that paradoxes our bizarre networked state.
John Kelsey (b. 1965) lives and works in New York. Since 1999, he has been a member of the artist collective Bernadette Corporation, and today is also a critic, writer and dealer.