Born: Brooklyn, New York
Education: School Of Industrial Arts, New York
Ken Keeley is vaulting into the ranks of the elite not so much by charting new territory in his street scenes and newsstands but because he gives his true-to-life works a life of their own. Keeley's collections of candy bars and magazines; storefronts and street scenes grab your interest and captivate it. Transcending the limits of technical virtuosity, Keeley has become one of the more recognizable artists working today-and not simply because the paintings he creates are of New York City's most recognizable vistas. Gus interpretations of various Manhattan landmarks-past and present-including but not limited to Times Square Trump Tower, Radio City, Paddy's Clam House, Prince Street and many more intricate portraits of newsstands, candy stores, fruit stands, well-known restaurants and street corners have earned Keeley international acclaim.
The artist's research involves photographing literally hundreds of sights for potential paintings from many angles-often a treacherous feat when you're trying to shoot a fish store form across a typically well-trafficked New York street. The final paintings are not just faithful translations of these images but reconstructions devised by the artist that always include some whimsical or private code. Keeley's reluctance to fit into that very slick element that is known in the art world as photo-realist or super-realist is not just a natural resistance to be categorized: his mature body of work contains the detail inherent in the aforementioned divisions of the art world, with a luminosity and sensitivity that separated Keeley from those other very gifted artists who simply assault us with their more-than-perfect recreations.
Keeley, like Eckelberry, gives his work a feeling and personality that adds beauty and grace to what could very easily fall into the mundane. With all his recent success, Keeley still remains the consummate artist-Disciplines, humble, and very serious about his work. He is at the point in his career where he cannot produce paintings quickly enough to meet the demand, and, unlike many other artists working today, he will hear nothing of studio assistants, projectors of any other process that will speed up production.