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Mike Kelley

More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin


On View

Floor 5

Neil Bluhm Family Galleries


Mike Kelley (1954-2012)


More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin




Stuffed fabric toys and afghans on canvas with dried corn; wax candles on wood and metal base


Overall: 120 3/4 × 151 3/4 × 31 3/4 in. (306.7 × 385.4 × 80.6 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Accession number


Object Label

More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid is a chaotic assemblage of handmade dolls and blankets that Mike Kelley found in thrift stores. Kelley does not designate to whom more “love hours” are owed, but simply puts forward the condition of loving something too much, or of receiving too little in return—like the cast-off items that make up the sculpture. The title also conjures associations of guilt: when parents and relatives create these toys and blankets, are the countless hours of stitching, knitting, and crocheting a kind of penance, and for what? Do we expect children to repay the time and love lavished on them? Using Jackson Pollock’s large drip paintings as his compositional model, Kelley transformed the orphaned handicrafts into a swirling mass of unrequited affection that is beyond human reciprocation. Similarly, the collection of melted candles in the related work, The Wages of Sin, becomes an altar to the power of teen angst and implies a child’s rite of passage into the adult worlds of labor, debt, and atonement.

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