John Kelly

b.1959

John Kelly is a choreographer, director, singer, artist and writer. He has received major honors ranging from a 2013 USA Artists Award Fellowship to the 2007 Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome. As a performance and visual artist, his performances range from solo to large group, and have focused on autobiographical, cultural and political issues, as well as the nature of creative genius. Subjects have included the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic, Mythology, and character studies based on Egon Schiele, Caravaggio, Antonin Artaud, Joni Mitchell, and Jean Cocteau. These works have been commissioned by The Kitchen, Lincoln Center, New York Live Arts, the Warhol Museum, the Whitney Museum, PS 122, and BAM’s Next Wave Festival.

Awards include: 2 Bessie Awards; 2 Obie Awards; 2 NEA American Masterpiece Awards (for reconstructions of ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’ & ‘Find My Way Home’); a CalArts Alpert Award; a 2010 Visual AIDS Vanguard Award; and the 2011 Ethyl Eichelberger Award. Fellowships include: The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard in 2006; The Guggenheim Foundation; The Sundance Theatre Institute; and Art Matters. Recent residencies include: The Park Avenue Armory; a LMCC Process Space Studio Artist; Yaddo; The MacDowell Colony; The Bogliasco Foundation; and the Civitella Ramieri Foundation. He is currently a Visiting Artist in Residence at Bard College.

Visual Art Exhibitions include: Alexander Gray Associates; MOMA; List Visual Art Center at MIT; Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; New Museum; PS 1; MACRO, Roma; the Coreana Art Museum, Soeul, Korea, Harvard University, and The Hudson Opera House.

Kelly’s reputation rests on a body of ambitious multi-disciplinary works, both solo and ensemble, focused on movement, physical transformation, and countertenor vocals in the service of non-linear storytelling. These can be divided into primary bodies of work:

Autobiographical works:

  • ‘Born With The Moon In Cancer’
  • ‘Ode To A Cube’
  • ‘Divine Promiscue’
  • ‘Constant Stranger’
  • ‘Escape Artist Redux’

Works based on specific cultural topics:

  • ‘Go West Junger Mann’ (The Berlin Wall)
  • ‘Diary of a Somnambulist’ (German Expressionistic Film)
  • ‘Maybe Its Cold Outside’; ‘Down In The Mouth’; Akin: True But Dour (the AIDS Epidemic)
  • ‘Brother’ (queer history)

Actual character portraits:

  • ‘Paved Paradise’ (Joni Mitchell, Canadian poet and songwriter)
  • 'The Dagmar Onassis Story' (the fictional daughter of opera singer Maria Callas)
  • ‘Find My Way Home’ (Orpheus, lyric poet and musician of antiquity)
  • ‘Life of Cruelty’ (Antonin Artaud, French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director)
  • ‘Light Shall Lift Them’ (Vander Barbette, Texas-born cross-dressing aerialist, and Jean Cocteau, French writer, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker)
  • ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’ (Egon Schiele, Viennese Expressionist visual artist)
  • 'The Paradise Project', (the 19th century mime Baptiste Deburau from the French film 'Les Enfants du Paradis')

His subjects are often artists, and have included poetically literal theatrical renderings of their creative work process: 

  • live self-portrait (in a mirror) for an audience (as Antonin Artaud in ‘Life of Cruelty’, at The Drawing Center)
  • the slow removal of a blank surface coating (spray snow) to reveal a painting underneath (as the artist Egon Schiele in ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’)
  • live drawing with thick white lecturers chalk on the black stage floor of the Harvey Theatre (as Jean Cocteau in ‘Light Shall Lift Them’)
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I make multi-disciplinary performance works, both solo and group, that generally focus on movement and countertenor vocals in the service of non-linear storytelling. At the core of these works is my use of character portrayal, both actual and fictitious: Joni Mitchell in ‘Paved Paradise’; Orpheus in ‘Find My Way Home’; and other times deliberately autobiographical: ‘Born With The Moon In Cancer’; ‘Ode To A Cube’; ‘Constant Stranger’; ‘Escape Artist Redux’.

Throughout my career I've moved between--painting my face and body in preparation for live performance—to 2-dimensionally rendering myself in private with a mirror, a paper, a canvas, or a camera on a tripod. My love of visual art has led me to make performance works about the artist at work: the French playwright and artist Antonin Artaud in ‘Life of Cruelty); the Viennese Expressionist Egon Schiele in ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’); French artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and the trapeze artist Barbette in ‘Light Shall Lift Them’.  I have also maintained a visual art practice, including drawing, painting, photography, and video.

JOHN KELLY

Born New Jersey, Lives in New York

p[email protected]

www.johnkellyperformance.org

EDUCATION

  • 2005 | Museum of Fine Arts School, Boston (painting techniques)
  • 1996 | Theatre D’Ange Fou; Paris, France (Decroux Corporeal Mime)
  • 1993 | Pickle Family Circus; San Francisco (trapeze; tite-wire)
  • 1990 | Accademia Musicale Ottorino Respighi; Assisi, Italy (vocal studies)
  • 1976-79 | Parsons School of Design; (drawing; painting; photography; illustration)
  • 1974-76 | Harkness House for Ballet Arts; (trainee: technique; flamenco; repertoire)
  • 1972-75 | American Ballet Theatre School; (technique; character dance; repertoire)
  • 1972-74 | Charles Weidman Expression of Two Arts Theatre; (modern technique; repertoire); James Waring Studio; (ballet)

PERFORMANCE VENUES

  • 2016 | MASS MOCA; Abrons Arts Center; Dancers Responding to AIDS, St Marks Danspace; Joes Pub

  • 2015 | River To River Festival, Governors Island
  • 2014 | Bryn Mawr University; Hudson Opera House; Bard Live Arts
  • 2013 | Participant Gallery, NY; Spiegeltent, Bard College
  • 2012 | Joe’s Pub, Public Theatre, NY
  • 2011 | New York Live Arts, NY; Museum of Art & Design, NY; Performance Space 122, NY; Park Avenue Armory, NY; Afterglow Festival, Provincetown, MA
  • 2010 | Park Avenue Armory, NY; Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA; Galapagos, NY; Il Poisson Rouge, NY; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; Abrons Art Center, NY; Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX
  • 2009 | Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN; Symphony Space, New York, NY; Abrons Arts Center, NY; River To River Festival, Castle Clinton, NY; One Arm Red, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2008 | Tate Modern, London, UK; Hong Kong International Festival, China; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, NY; Speigletent, Bard College, NY
  • 2007 | Accademia Americana in Roma, Italy; Accademia di Romania in Roma, Italy; Goteborg City Theatre, Goteborg, Sweden, Hassleblad Award for Nan Goldin; Theater Offensive, Boston
  • 2006 | Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Monica, CA; Spiegel Tent, New York, NY; Southern Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
  • 2005 | American Repertory Theatre, Benefit For A.R.T., Cambridge, MA
  • 2004 | Joyce Theatre, Altogether Different Festival, NY; Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, PA; Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt, Germany; On The Boards, Seattle, WA; Oberlin Dance Collective, San Francisco
  • 2003 | Howl Festival, NY; Gagosian Gallery, Bang On A Can Benefit, NY
  • 2002 | Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Sundance Theater Institute, Sundance, Utah; The Kitchen, NY
  • 2001 | Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT; Performance Space122, NY; Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, NY; Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, PA
  • 1999 | New Victory Theatre, Lincoln Center’s Great Performers New Visions Series, NY; PS 1, Long Island City, NY; Copley Symphony Hall, San Diego, CA
  • 1998 | Wortham Theatre Center, Houston, TX; On The Boards, Seattle, WA; PICA, Portland, OR
  • 1997 | The Drawing Center, NY; Westbeth Theatre Center, NY; Glej Theatre, Lublijana, Slovenia; Dance Theater Workshop, NY; Arts Festival of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA; Real Artways, Hartford, CT
  • 1996 | Westbeth Theatre Center, NY; Spoleto Festival, Spoleto, Italy; Joyce Theatre, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Colony Theatre, Miami, FL; Alley Theatre, Houston, TX
  • 1995 | Maison Du Culture Du Monde, Paris, France; Theatrehaus, Jena, Germany; LaMama, NY; Alley Theatre, Houston, TX; Highways, Santa Monica, CA
  • 1994 | Danspace Project at St. Marks Church, NY; St. Mark’s Church, NY; PS 1, Galerie Boudoir, NY; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Exit Art, NY; Cooper Union, Benefit for Sarajevo, NY
  • 1993 | Brooklyn Academy of Music, Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn, NY; Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, NY; Whitney Biennial, NY

VISUAL ART EXHIBITIONS   (solo shows marked by *asterisk)

  • 2015 | '(Counter) Public Art, Intervention and Performance in Lower Manhattan from 1978-1993', The Arts Center at Governors Island
  • 2014 | *Center Hall Gallery, Gallery at Hudson Opera House, NY; 'The House Is Open’, Fisher Center, Bard Live Arts
  • 2012 | *Judy Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA
  • ‘Muse Ascending a Staircase’ (video & photography installation), ‘Masquerade’ Exhibition, Coreana Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
  • 2011 | ‘Looking at Music 3.0’, Museum of Modern Art, NY
  • 2010 | *‘Schiele-Kelly’, La Galleria La MaMa, NY
  • ‘Queer Voice’, Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; 'London Biennale Satellite Show’, Christopher Henry Gallery, NY; 'Virtuoso Illusion: Cross-Dressing and the New Media Avant-Garde’, MIT List Visual Arts Center
  • 2009 | *’The Mirror Stages: Self-Portraits 1979-2009’ Alexander Gray Associates, NY; 'Postcards From The Edge’, Metro Pictures, NY
  • 2007 | *’Cara Viaggio’, American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy; ‘One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This’, Creative Time, NY
  • ‘Tryingtoload’, MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma, Rome, Italy; ‘Stars and Stripes’, Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Florence, Italy
  • 2005 | *’Recycling The Muse’, Baker Room Gallery, Radcliffe Yard, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • 2004 | ‘East Village USA’, New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY
  • 2003 | *The Paradise Project’, The Kitchen, NY
  • 2002 | ‘Enough About Me’; Momenta Arts, Williamsburg, NY (curated by Deborah Kass)
  • 2000 | ‘Friendships In Arcadia: Artist’s and Writers at YADDO’, Art In General, & Saratoga Art Museum

AWARDS | GRANTS | FELLOWSHIPS | RESIDENCIES

  • 2016 | Dance In Process (residency), Gibney Dance Center, NY; Millay Colony (residency); Virginia Center (residency)
  • 2015 | Good Works Foundation, Grant; Yaddo (residency); The MacDowell Colony (residency); The Park Avenue Armory (music residency)
  • 2014 | LMCC Process Space (residency)
  • 2013 | USA Artists Award ‘Gracie’ Fellowship
  • The ‘Oscar Wild Was Right : An Echo Is Often More Beautiful Than The Voice It Repeats’ Otto Retter Award
  • Visiting Artist in Residence, Bard College
  • Artist’s Residency, Yaddo Art Colony
  • 2012 | Artist’s Residency, Bogliasco Foundation, Italy
  • Good Works Foundation, Grant
  • Artist’s Residency, The MacDowell Colony
  • 2011 | NEA American Masterpieces Dance Award, for ‘Find My Way Home’
  • Jerome Robbins Foundation, Grant
  • Ethyl Eichelberger Award
  • Artist’s Residency, The MacDowell Colony
  • 2010 | NEA American Masterpieces Dance Award, for ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte‘
  • Armory Artist In Residence, Park Avenue Armory, NY
  • Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship, Sundance Institute Theatre Program at MASS MoCA, MA
  • Artist In Residence, Civitella Ranieri Center, Umbria, Italy
  • Visual AIDS Vanguard Award
  • Austin Critics’ Table Award, for ‘Paved Paradise Redux’
  • 2008-09 | ARC (Advancement, Reinvention, Creativity) Foundation Grant
  • Digital Performance Institute, Residency
  • 2006-07 | Rome Prize in Visual Art, The American Academy In Rome
  • Good Works Foundation, Grant
  • 2005 | Elliot Norton Award, Outstanding Actor Large Ensemble, for ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage’ at
  • American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge
  • 2004-05 | Sargent-Faull Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
  • 2003 | Aritst’s Residency, Yaddo
  • 2001 | Cal/Arts Alpert Award, in Dance/Performance
  • 2001 | New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist Fellowship
  • 1998-99 | P.S.1 National Studio Artist Program, The Clocktower, NY
  • 1998 | NEA Creation Grant
  • 1991-98 | New York State Council for the Arts, Grant
  • 1997 | Artist’s Residency, The MacDowell Colony
  • 1996 | NEA Creation/Presentation Grant
  • 1996 | Artist’s Residency, Yaddo
  • 1991-1996 | NEA Choreographer Fellowships
  • 1995 | French Cultural Residency, Paris (Decroux Corporeal Mime study)
  • 1992 | Oscar Rubenhausen Fellowship, The Greenwall Foundation
  • 1992 | Art Matters, Inc., Fellowship
  • 1991 | Obie Award
  • 1991 | New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist Fellowship
  • 1989 | John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
  • 1988 | Bessie Award
  • 1988 | Peg Santvoord Award
  • 1987 | Obie Award
  • 1986 | Bessie Award
  • 1986 | Peg Santvoord Award
  • 1985 | Neffertitti Award (The Pyramid Club)

PUBLICATIONS

  • ‘PORTFOLIO: John Kelly’, Performing Arts Journal, Volume XXXIV, Number 1 (PAJ 100), January 2012
  • ‘Performing Paint’, The Italian Journal, Volume 20, Number 3, 2010
  • ‘Closet Thrush’, essay in catalogue for exhibition ‘Queer Voice’, at Institute for Contemporary Art,
  • Philadelphia 2010
  • ‘In Praise Of Drag: Redux’, essay in catalogue for exhibition ‘Virtuoso Illusion; Cross-Dressing and the
  • New Media Avant Garde’, at List Art Center, MIT Press, 2010
  • ‘Dancenoise: They Stripped With Their Boots On: Revenge With Reprieve’; Movement Research
  • Performance Journal #34, 2009
  • ‘Giving Order To The Google’, InsideArts, Nov/Dec 2005, 35.
  • ‘Grateful’, Reader: Ideas & Information on Arts & Culture, Vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 2002, 27.
  • ‘110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11th’, New York University Press, 2002
  • ‘JOHN KELLY’, Autobiography/Monograph published by the 2wice Arts Foundation, in association
  • with Aperture, 2001
  • ‘The Mirror’ 2wice, ‘Self’ issue Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000, 14-17.
  • ‘I Want Your Myth’, Movement Research Journal: Heroes and Histories, #6, April 1993
  • ‘In Praise Of Drag’, Movement Research Journal: Gender Performance, #3, September 1991
  • ‘A Way With Words’, Movement Research Journal
  • ‘The Kitchen Turns Twenty: A Retrospective Anthology’, The Kitchen Center for Video, Music and
  • Dance, NY 1992, 97.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Laura Collins-Hughes, 'John Kelly Revives 'Love of a Poet', The New York Times, June 26, 2015
  • Christina Knight, 'John Kelly Interview: Then and Now', NYC Arts, June 15, 2015
  • Tim Murphy, 'A Performance Artist's Heartfelt New Persona', The New York Times, June 17, 2013
  • Harvey Perr, ‘Woe And Behold: John Kelly at the Public Theater’, Stage and Cinema, October 18, 2012
  • Joan Acocella, Critic’s Notebook: ‘Reconstruction’, The New Yorker, Nov. 24, 2011
  • Lucid Culture, ‘John Kelly’s Escape Artist Cheats Death’, April 22, 2011
  • Ben Brantley, ‘Egon Schiele Seen From Many Angles’, The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2010
  • Scott Brown, ‘Artist Meets Artist in John Kelly’s Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte’, New York Magazine, 2010
  • Elizabeth Kley, ‘Alter Egon’, Artnet.com, January 2011
  • Nick Curley, ‘Egon, Baby, Gone’, New York Press, Nov. 30, 2010
  • Chrissie Iles, Art Forum, ‘Blue (John Kelly) Best Of 2009’ December 2009
  • Carol Diehl, Art In America, “John Kelly / Alexander Gray”, November, 2009
  • Ariel Levy, The New Yorker: Talk Of The Town, Homage Dept: ‘Being Joni’, Aug. 17, 2009
  • Holland Cotter, “THE MIRROR STAGES: SELF-PORTRAITS 1979-2009”, New York Times, June, 2009
  • Morgan Falconer, ‘John Kelly: Alexander Gray Associates, New York, USA’ Frieze, July 14, 2009
  • Robert Sokol, ‘John Kelly Looks At Life From Both Sides Now’, Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco, 2009
  • Patrick Lee, “Paved Paradise Redux”( review), TheaterMania, June 22, 2009
  • Eva Yaa Asantewaa, “John + Joni = !”, NFINITEBODY, June 19, 2009
  • Planet Homo, ‘Paving Paradise’, January 6, 2009
  • Louise Kennedy, ‘From Out On The Edge to the Center of Joni Mitchell’s World’, The Boston Globe, 2007
  • Matthew Gilbert, Article: 'A Case Of Her: John Kelly Moves Audiences and the Singer Herself', The Boston Globe, Oct, 2007
  • Roberta Smith, “Looking Back At the Flurry On the Far Side”, The New York Times, Dec. 10, 2004
  • Lance Esplund, “Life Among the Village People”, December 10, 2004
  • Sharon Lerner, Interview, WNYC Radio, Studio 360: Parody: 'Johnny Loves Joni', Oct. 16, 2004.
  • David Garland, Interview, WNYC Radio, NY, Spinning On Air, May 21, 2004.
  • Culturebot, Online Review 'Woman Of Heart And Min', May 21, 2004.
  • Wick Boyle, Article: “A Queen With Substance: John Kelly Plumbs The Politics Underlying Joni Mitchell’s Music”, Gay City News, March 18, 2004.
  • Jed Ryan, Interview: “John Kelly Brings Joni Mitchell To Fez!: The Performance Artist Talks About His New Show, His Past Body Of Work, And The State Of Gay Culture”, March 2004.
  • Deborah Jowitt, Review: “O For A Muse Of Fire: Choreographers Enter History, Bringing It To Bear On The Present And The Personal”, The Village Voice, Jan. 14, 2004.
  • Jennifer Dunning, ‘Having A Play Date With ‘The Children Of Paradise’, New York Times, Jan, 2004.
  • Frances Sorensen, Interview, WPS1 Radio, NY, Transister Radio #2, 2004.
  • David Frankel, Article: 'Photo Play: John Dugdale & John Kelly', Aperture 173, Winter 2003, 66-79.
  • C. Carr, Article: “Silence = Life: John Kelly Represents In Mime”, The Village Voice, Sept. 11, 2002.
  • Ben Brantley, ‘Greasepaint On The Pillow: Becoming A Mime In Dreamland’, New York Times, 2002.
  • Linda Yablonski, Article: 'Off-Off Color: Obie-Winner John Kelly Tunes Into Modern Love With ‘Brother’, Time Out New York, May 17, 2001.

ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE WORKS

  • 2016 'Time No Line' (workshop)
  • 2015 'Love of a Poet' (reconstruction)
  • 2014 'Escape Artist Redux' (performance and 4-channel video installation)
  • 2013 'Muse Ascending a Staircase' (3-channel video installation)
  • 2013 'Rebel Songs of a Range Queen' (concert/cabaret)
  • 2012 'John Kelly and Dargelos' (concert/cabaret)
  • 2011 'The Escape Artist'
  • 2011 'Find My Way Home' (reconstruction)
  • 2010 'Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte (reconstruction)
  • 2010 ‘Cohesion’
  • 2009-10 ‘The Escape Artist’ (workshop production)
  • 2009-10 ‘Paved Paradise Redux: The Art of Joni MItchell’
  • 2009 ‘Songs For A Shiny Hot Night: The Joni MItchell Songbook~’Court And Spark’
  • 2008 ‘Dargelos at Bar 13’ (concert/cabaret)
  • 2007 ‘Cara Viaggio’
  • 2007 ‘Music For Romanians’
  • 2006 ‘Mrs. Hamlet’
  • 2006 ‘21stCentury Vox’ (concert/cabaret)
  • 2002-05 ‘Shiny Hot Nights’
  • 2004 ‘The Skin I’m In’
  • 2003 ‘Get Up And Jive’
  • 2002 ‘The Paradise Project’
  • 2001 ‘Brother’
  • 1999 ‘Moondrunk’
  • 1999 ‘Café Bluebeard Hof’
  • 1998 ‘Sing Low Sweet Love’
  • 1998 ‘Find My Way Home’
  • 1997 ‘Life Of Cruelty’
  • 1996-00 ‘Paved Paradise’
  • 1997 ‘The Name On The Tip Of The Tongue’
  • 1996 ‘20thCentury Vox’
  • 1995-96 ‘Constant Stranger’
  • 1995-96 ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’
  • 1995 ‘Long Live The Knife’
  • 1994 ‘Far Cry From Bliss’
  • 1993 ‘Light Shall Lift Them’
  • 1993 ‘I Want Your Myth’
  • 1992 ‘Akin: True But Dour’
  • 1992 ‘Arias I Love’
  • 1992 ‘Divine Promiscue’
  • 1991 ‘Down In The Mouth’
  • 1991 ‘Her Tender Moment’
  • 1990 ‘Love Of A Poet’
  • 1990 ‘Cupid And Death’
  • 1990 ‘Maybe It’s Cold Outside’
  • 1990 ‘John Kelly Sings’
  • 1988 ‘Ode To A Cube’
  • 1986 ‘Born With The Moon In Cancer’
  • 1986 ‘Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte’
  • 1985-86 ‘Diary Of A Somnambulist’
  • 1985 ‘Go West Junger Mann’
  • 1985 ‘Long Live The Knife’
  • 1985 ‘St. George Killed The Dragon’
  • 1984 ‘Death Of Marat’
  • 1984 ‘Trans Siberian Express’
  • 1984 ‘The Dagmar Onassis Story’
  • 1982 ‘S. Sebastiano’
  • 1983 ‘Narcissus’
  • 1983 ‘The Forces Of Destiny’
  • 1983 ‘Pass The Knachwurst, Bitte’
  • 1982 ‘The Mona Lisa’
  • 1982 ‘Life Without Grace’
  • 1982 ‘La Divina’
  • 1981 ‘Maria In Rio’
  • 1981 ‘Orfeo’
  • 1980 ‘Dagmar a Macbetto’
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