DISCLAIMER
This site is devoted to the study of the paintings of Peter Robert Keil. He is a well-known German artist and the web is full of informations about his life (see e.g. this page on Eclectic Art or this site or this second site maintained by Keil's entourage or on Wikipedia in English or German). He is a very productive painter and hundreds (if not thousands) of his paintings have been sold around the world and are regularly put up for sale in auctions and on the web. According to art students and dealers, his talent is huge but the shear number of Keil paintings on the market has kept prices relatively low so far - in contrast with paintings of some of his fellow painters from the "Neuen Wilden" group that command much higher prices.

In copying images from a myriad of web sites I may have infringed copyrights for one or more images. I ask for indulgence, as I am driven just by admiration for Keil's work, and have no commercial interest whatsoever. Conversely, these copyright owners may profit from increasing knowledge and research on Peter Keil. I wish to acknowledge the generosity of many of these galleries and their owners (e.g., Eclectic ArtKunst-Antikmarkt, Galerie Villa Karlsbrunn, Galerie Kunstsinn, eART, RaZoO Gallery and others)  for sharing the images of their paintings on sale on the web. Keil's entourage also has a site called the Keil museum that has many interesting paintings and objects, although most of them are of recent times and thus in no way a "museum".

This site is strictly non-commercial and non-profit. If you like Keil and would like to purchase one of his paintings, look at these galleries on the web (see above), or at one of the many other galleries, and on eBay. Many Keil paintings can be found on sale on the web.

THE PAINTED WORLD OF PETER ROBERT KEIL: AN INTRODUCTION

A systematic catalog or a classification of Keil's oeuvre does not appear to be available. This site intends to provide a first attempt at such a classification and listing. It is by no means complete, as it includes images found on the web. It may serve as orientation for other art lovers who are interested by the work of this very special and powerful painter, or may serve as a basis for more professional work by art students or historians.

DATING AND TITLES - Neither the attribution, nor the year of painting should be taken for granted - remember, Peter Keil is some of a prankster! In particular, there is a large group of paintings dated "59": some have a recognizable early style (Keil was 17 years old in 1959), while many others are painted in a style that seems to indicate a much later period (around 2000 or later). There is also a group of paintings with a date reading "40" that could indicate Keil's age rather than the actual year of painting (he was born in 1942). Keil is also known to have added titles to his paintings at times much later than the painting was actually created - e.g., painting dated 1959 and titled "The Beatles"...., or portraits with anachronistic names of German politicians. In general, titles should not be taken too seriously, just as dates.

SUPPORT - Particularly in his early years, Keil liked to paint on whatever support he could find. Several of his early works are just old paintings from the flea market that he simply painted over, or even prints with their passepartout – just painted over. Often, the original painting's or print's frame would be reused: many Keil paintings ahve old-fashioned frames that were just fit to the original underlying painting. Keil also collected old bedsheets and tablecloths at the flea market and spanned them over roughly built wooden frames to use them as “painting canvases”. It is not unusual to recognize the fabric pattern, and even embroideries, not only from the back of the frames but even through the painting. Sometimes the fabric used would be colored rather than white, and given the quick, hasty grounding, it would shine through and influence the painting’s overall tint. In some pictures he pasted newspaper clippings onto the canvas to create a sort of collage-paintings.

SUBJECTS AND THEMES - Peter Keil paintings tend to cluster around certain themes – circus life and clowns, lakes and sailboats, cigarette-smoking women, nightlife, nudes, celebrities. However, these themes can be handled in such diverse manners that it is sometimes difficult to believe one and the same person can paint in so many different styles. It is intriguing to see Keil's "realistic" paintings (with very disparate themes ranging from historic themes to contemporary "shots") that indicate that his more abstract paintings are certainly chosen to be painted like that and not simply the result of lack of ability. It is also interesting to note how motifs or small details can appear again and again - from 1959 to the late Nineties.

I hope you will enjoy these wonderful paintings, just as I do. If you have comments or suggestions or corrections, or have paintings to be added to this site, I will be glad to read from you - contact me at info(at)finarte.ch.

 

Here are some of the "groups" of paintings I have done:

Landscapes and views

This include a series of brilliant visions of New York in 1959. It is regrettable that Keil did not paint more views and landscapes in his later years, as his talent shows very well in those early works. Some of the original 1959 paintings have been repainted in later years.

Lakes, beaches, sailboats; Lakes and faces

A recurrent theme in Keil’s work – several lakes near Berlin (Wannsee, Grunewaldsee) or in other parts of Germany and Austria, with some rare view from the US. Sometimes the lake scenery serves as background for faces.

Circus life

The circus seems to have exerted a long-lasting fascination on Keil. This group includes a series of early paintings from 1959 to 1965. Interestingly, a scene with three clowns with striped shirts, one playing an accordeon, has been painted at least three times over a distance of many years. For clowns' faces, see next group.

Clown faces
“Clowns” seem to be distinguishable from other portraits by the red bulbous nose and the red cheek glows.

Single faces and portraits
From strongly expressionistic to realistic. The red, often heart-shaped mouth is typical but by no means present in all of them. Includes several self-portraits, some of which with a hat.

Multiple faces
This is a Keil specialty, and one that illustrates well the way in which he observes persons around him. From his early paintings (two or three persons) evolve the series of one-face portraits on one hand, and of "group portraits" (four or more faces) on the other hand, the latter being so typical for him. We find examples as early as 1959 (characters from the political scene) and then later as Beatles (many examples; inspired by the "Let It Be" cover?) or the Rolling Stones or just faces at the Berlin wall or on Broadway. Often, one of the persons is seen in profile (yes, Keil’s profiles are rarely flattering).

This group is also important as it shows the evolution of Keil's early style in faces and portraits (see the first twelve paintings or so in that series, from 1959 to 1961). It must not be forgotten that Keil was 18 to 20 year old. The evolution of the ovals of the face and the nose (the two lines with the rings at the bottom) and the mouths are genuine. They contrast markedly with many other paintings that bear the date "1959" but are clearly painted in later years.

Inverted faces group
Perhaps inspired by his colleague Baselitz, there is a group of portraits that are very similar among themselves (placement of eyes and nose) and of whom many are signed like if the heads were upside down.

Eighties faces group
This is an arbitraryly designated group characterized by very intense paintbrushing giving a strongly expressionistic trait. One of my favourite for its strength of expression.

Portrait series 1985

A quite homogeneous group of faces painted on boards of square proportions. Three or four subgroups are recognizable. This group was offered for sale by the Florida eBay seller who is a personal friend of Peter Keil. According to him, the paintings were done in Berlin. Although relatively homogeneous, this large group shows well the changeable details in Keil's paintings as well as the colour themes.

"Dolce vita" Eighties group
A peculiar group of painting from the Eighties (perhaps extending into the early Nineties) depicting “dolce vita” aspects – play, drinking, and sex – mainly in Berlin. Many of the faces are fascinating in their expressivity. Many paintings overlap with the “rich painting” group and with the Red-Green-Blue group.

"Rich painting" group
Another arbitrary grouping of a series of painting characterized by rich use of the colour palette with colours changing from one brushstroke to the next (quite in contrast with the “Red-Green-Blue group”). Extends from Eighties to Nineties.

"Red-green-blue" group

A series of paintings with stylized portraits with black contours and filed with homogeneous and saturated colours. Contains some of my favourites. Also extends from the mid-Eighties to the early Nineties. Borders with the Rich Painting group and the Dolce Vita group.

Nudes

Nudes are found in many other groups too- included here are those paintings the main theme of which is the body - even if in some, no nudities are obvious. As nudes are a recurrent theme over the years, many different styles can be observed in this group.

Flowers

Sometimes as "Blumengruss", flowers' greetings, like a postcard from another city.

Celebrities

Keil seems to like to paint celebrities - from Picasso to The Beatles - many of whom he was actually acquainted with. I have left some Celebrities portraits in other groups when I felt they were placed better (e.g., Sofia Loren)

Collages, Sprays, and Slogans

A serie of late panels combining newspaper clippings and other materials as collages, sprayed can paint, and text, the subject often being political.

Abstract and surrealistic paintings

Often inspired by Picasso, the borderline between these paintings and many others in the Keil oeuvre is arbitrary.

"Realistic" paintings

Objects

Miscellaneous and Unclassifieds
Includes many pictures that, for lack of first-hand information, cannot be easily grouped with others. Includes wonderful early expressionistic paintings (e.g., Verlorene Menschen in der Grossstadt) as well as some abstract paintings with no human figures, as well as later works. To be worked on!

 

Contact me at info(at)finarte.ch.