Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Mike Kelley (American, 1954–2012)

Craft Morphology Flow Chart, 1991

Dolls and figures, gelatin silver prints, acrylic on paper, folding banquet tables, and folding card tables

Dimensions variable


Gift of Lannan Foundation
1997.41

Mike Kelley’s installation, Craft Morphology Flow Chart, presents a series of folding banquet tables and card tables with sewn and crocheted dolls. On the walls are photographs of the dolls measured and inspected, as if in a biology lab, while the tables of dolls on display call to mind a craft bazaar.

The artist organized the installation so that the viewer would walk through the “flow” of tables, moving from sewn to crocheted dolls (although he arranged some dolls out of order). The transition from the finely crafted complete figures to the more crudely constructed, less anatomically correct objects disrupts our expectation of evolutionary progress. Our socialized sense of these objects is also disturbed through the presentation of dolls, which are traditionally associated with children and innocence, in a format that suggests the sterile calculations of science. This work is the last in Kelley’s Half A Man series, in which he incorporated used dolls.