John Kelly is a performance and visual artist whose multifaceted career spans more than three decades. His innovative performance works stem from autobiographical, cultural, gender, and identity issues, realized through the theatrical, visual, movement-based, and vocal delineation of character. Subjects have included the AIDS epidemic, the Berlin Wall, the Troubadours, and Expressionistic Film, and character studies based on Egon Schiele, Caravaggio, Antonin Artaud, Joni Mitchell, and Jean Cocteau.

Kelly’s performance career began in the early 1980’s with performances in New York’s East Village clubs including the Limbo Lounge, Pyramid Club, and Club 57. Subsequently, his works have been presented at a diverse range of venues including The Kitchen, La MaMa, PS 122, New York Live Arts, the Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, On The Boards, The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Andy Warhol Museum, PS 1, Walker Art Center, ICA Philadelphia, the Drawing Center, Participant Inc., and Joe’s Pub at the Public. Major commissions include BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Lincoln Center Serious Fun! Festival, MASS MoCA, and Creative Time.

Kelly has received two “Bessie” Awards (New York Dance and Performance Awards), two Obie Awards, two NEA American Masterpiece Awards, an American Choreographer Award, a Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (CalArts), a Visual AIDS Vanguard Award, and an Ethyl Eichelberger Award. Fellowships include the American Academy in Rome, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, Guggenheim Fellowship, Sundance Institute Theatre Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, Art Matters, Inc., and USA Artists Fellowship. Recent residencies include MASS MoCA, Abrons Arts Center, Gibney Dance, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Park Avenue Armory.

His visual art has been exhibited at Alexander Gray Associates, Museum of Modern Art, MIT List Visual Arts Center, ICA Philadelphia, New Museum of Contemporary Art, PS 1, Art in General, New Museum; PS 1, Art In General, FotoGrafia-Festival Internazionale di Roma, MACRO, Roma, Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Firenze, and the Coreana Art Museum, Soeul.

As a singer he has collaborated and recorded with composers David Del Tredici, Richard Einhorn, Laurie Anderson, and the Jazz Passengers. Acting credits include the Broadway production of ‘James Joyce’s The Dead’ (Bartell D’Arcy) at the Belasco Theatre; Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage’ (Cupid), directed by Neil Bartlett at A.R.T.; Rinde Eckert’s ‘Orpheus X’ (Jon/Persephone) directed by Robert Woodruff, at A.R.T. and TFANA; ‘Dog Days’ (Prince), an opera by David Little, directed by Robert Woodruff at Peak Performances, Ft Worth Opera, LA Opera, and New York’s 2016 Prototype Festival; ‘The Threepenny Opera’ (Street Singer/Filch) directed by Martha Clarke at the Atlantic Theatre Company; ‘The Clerk’s Tale’ (Spencer Reese) a film written and directed by James Franco. He has frequently performed the work of John Cage, including: ‘James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Eric Satie: An Alphabet’ (Narrator); ‘Report On The Weather’; ‘Aria With Fontana Mix (with the San Francisco Symphony); and ‘’The City Wears a Slouch Hat’.

‘JOHN KELLY,’ an award-winning visual autobiography, was published by 2wice Arts Foundation in association with Aperture. Essays have been written for Movement Research Journal, Inside Arts, Metro New York, The Italian Journal, and Performing Arts Journal.

His first solo recording, ‘Beauty Kills Me‘, was released by Strange Troubadours in 2016.

Comments (32)

32 Responses to “BIO”

  1. Elyse Dalle says:

    John Kelly is a New York treasure! I’ve been attending his unique & extraordinary performances for a very long time& am always astounded at his talent& vision! He is amazing– I was very young when I was fortunate enuf to see his show on Egon Schiele- I couldn’t believe what I was seeing– it was so emotional,creative& honest– I hope Mr. Kelly graces Gotham with his inventiveness for a long long time! He finds humanity& truth in his subjects while treating us to beautiful aesthetics!!

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