Everyone needs a hobby. Artist Mike Kelley has a doozy
He’s been devoting the last ten years to making glass images of Kandor, the lost Kryptonian “City in a bottle.” It seems that before Superman’s home planet was blown to smithereens, Brainiac stole the capital city of Kandor, shrank it down, and put it in a bottle, as we might save a ship or a guppy. Superman recovered the city in ACTION COMICS #242, and decided to keep it in the Fortress of Solitude, because nothing breaks up a lonely day like a tiny bottled city full of Kryptonians.
Since then, the city has been supersized, retconned, kicked around, and threatened many times. And now, it’s the subject of one man’s artistic obssession:
The work, which began in 1999 as part of an exhibition that was focused on the coming millennial change, uses “an out-of-date image of the future,”’ according to Kelley, who gave it a high tech spin. But the project was filled with stumbling blocks, from the relatively minor (Kandor was never depicted consistently in comic books) to major (many art-glass producers balked at the scale of the bottles, the largest of which were over 40 inches tall). Some heroes of the day: the workers at the Kavalier Glass Factory in the town of Sázava in the Czech Republic who stepped up to produce the larger bottles.
Kelley’s images of glass cities have now been collected in a book called. "Mike Kelley: Kandors" (Hirmer Verlag) distributed here by University of Chicago Press.
More images of Kelley’s collection in the NY Times link above. Kelly’s art has been exhibited at the Louvre, Tate Liverpool, the Gagosian Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, so he is no crazy fanboy — just an artist with a vision.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.