Peter Robert Keil
Peter Robert Keil was born in August 1942 in Züllichau / Pommern (now Poland).
His father was killed on the Eastern Front during World War II.
Mother and son set out to make their way through the chaos of battered Germany to West Berlin.
There he grew up in the neighborhood of grey blocks of houses, the typical backyards and the
trees of the park nearby. Young Keil was fascinated by the books he found
in the art section of the local library.
There he admired the works of the Expressionists and of Pablo Picasso.
Painter - Artist
In the beginning, Keil studied and copied the style of the great master Picasso
whom he met in Spain much later. At the age of 15 in 1957
Keil met the painter Otto Nagel, who became his first teacher and mentor.
Nagel introduced Keil to painting techniques, taught him realistic painting, and how to deal with colors.
As a young man, Keil accompanied Nagel on his tours of Berlin's back streets.
They often painted from nature and the young Keil learned to see his neighborhood
with the eyes of an artist. Teaching him the painter's craft and introducing him to
outdoor painting, Nagel also influenced his motifs as well as his color palette.
Keil refined his technique and broadened his knowledge when he studied at Berlin's
"Akademie fur Bildende Künste" (Berlin Academy of Fine Arts).
The academy brought about some important acquaintances and contacts.
There he met Baselitz,Rainer Fetting Fetting, Lupertz, and Schonebeck and made friends
with Salome Schmettau and other important artists.
Keil also obtained a degree as "Kunstschlosser" (art smith); several metal sculptures by Keil exist.
There exist a small series of beautiful paintings of scenes from New York City by Keil from 1959.
Both the style and the dating appears to be consistent and would indicate that Keil spent some time there,
though no records of the (first?) New York trip can be found in the official biographies.
In 1961 Keil attended Baselitz's and Schonebeck's public presentation of their "Pandemonium Manifesto"
at the "Grossgroschen 35" gallery. Keil also became a regular at Herta Fiedler's, who became known
as the "artists' mother". Keil was a well-known denizen of "Kleine Weltlaterne" in Moritzplatz,
a meeting place for the emerging avant-garde "Junge Wilde" ("Young Fauves") artists,
and he became the darling of art circles earning him the nickname the 'Wild man of Berlin"
for his passion for art and living.
The construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 interrupted the relationship with his famous
mentor when Nagel was trapped beyond the Wall in East Berlin.
Another important factor in those formative years of Keil's artistic development
was his close friendship with the painter Joan Miró whom he had met in Majorca,
Spain in the early 1960s.
Mirò repeatedly invited him to his studio in Palma, high above the Gala Major bay.
The intense sunlight as well as the vivid colors of the Mediterranean region were
important sources of inspiration for both Mirò and Keil. After Keil left Spain,
he found a small studio in Paris near the Place de la Bastille.
Living the carefree artist's life in Paris, the young Keil had a great time in the cafes,
bars and restaurants of magnificent city and all it had to offer.
By day he studied the Old Masterpieces in the museums,
at night he painted portraits in bars to earn his living.
Outcasts of the Parisian street scene and prostitutes were not only his models,
but often thankful customers. London was the young artist's next place of residence.
There he rented a small flat in Earls Court. For a year he enjoyed 'Swinging London' before
he found his way back to Berlin to paint on a full-time basis. Keil spent (and spends)
most of his time between Germany and the United States, particularly Florida.
There are very few known examples of Keil's paintings dated earlier than 1959.
On the other hand, there is a large number of paintings dated 1959 - some are so different in style
that it can be assumed that the date "59" in some of them does not actually correspond to
the year of creation. In his German period, Keil is a contemporary witness of the
consequences the erection the Berlin Wall had for West Berlin and the revolt against it.
In one impressive painting he shows people protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate
and he later often painted the place of protest, Glienicker Brücke,
as a symbol of separation of East and West Germany. Even in his later work,
a considerable number of paintings reflect Berlin's ecstatic attitude towards life and politics.
On a less political side, Keil often painted typical Berlin street and bar scenes (the well-known
“Paris Bar” is a recurrent theme), celebrities he met (e.g., the famous German TV showman Harald Juhnke),
women in various poses, fellow artists (e.g., Elvira Bach, Ranier Fetting, Markus Lüpertz).
Another recurrent theme is lakes and sailboats, in particular his beloved Lake Wannsee near the
Berlin of his youth, with its sailing boats, children swimming, sun-seeking bathers in rich colors and
the hill scenery around it. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the neo-expressionist painters in Germany
were grouped or marketed under the name of the “Neue Wilde”.
Although many of the painters were actually acquainted or even were friends among themselves,
the connections were loose, there was no programmatic manifesto, and the movement itself was
largely promoted by the art galleries.
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 flea markets that he simply painted over, or even prints with their passepartout – just painted over.
He also collected old bedsheets and tablecloths at the flea market and spanned them
over roughly built wooden frames to use them as “painting canvases”.
Often 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 to create a sort of collage-paintings.
Although his early landscape paintings are very beautiful and reveal his talent,
Keil’s attention is focused primarily on fellow humans. His life between Germany
(Berlin, Leipzig, Frankfurt, and Bavaria), Spain (Majorca), France (Paris), and the United States
(New York and Florida) led him to meet very different people and celebrities.
Thus, he portraited ordinary people from the street (often from Berlin or from Miami),
prostitutes, but also world-famous artists like Andy Warhol or fellow artists like Elvira Bach.
He also loved to paint personalities from the media like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Sofia Loren.
His Luc-work's are sold by auction by Sotheby's, Hampel, Ketterer en Doyle.
1962: First solo exhibition at the Art Gallery,
1964: London : Galerie Rotebro, Sweden
1965: Great Berlin Art Exhibition
1966: Great Berlin Art Exhibition
1980: Dr. Friedmann Gallery, Israel
1985: Wewerka Gallery, Berlin
1986–1990: Free Art Exhibition, Berlin, Exhibition Hall, Berlin
1993: Carousel Gallery, Dania, Florida, USA
1998: Aventura Art Gallery, Aventura, Florida, USA
1999: Höckner Gallery, Salzburg, Austria
2000: Exhibitions Paris, Amsterdam, London
2001–2005: Intercontinental Hotel Berlin
2002: International Art Fair, Frankfurt
2003: The Sixties Peter Robert Keil, Kunstsinn Gallery, Nuremberg
2005: Boxsler Gallery, Lichtenfels 2006: Public Library, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
2007: Villa Meixner, collection of the KulturForum Europa, Brühl/Baden
2007: Kessler Corporation, Orlando Florida, Savannah, Georgia, USA
2007 Artikel in Art Profil Magazine
2008: The Hurn Museum, Savannah, USA
2010: Keil-Collection Heidelberg, Long Night of the Museums, Heidelberg
2010: Edna Hibel Fine Art Gallery, West Palm Beach, Florida
2011: Keil-Collection Heidelberg, Long Night of the Museums, Heidelberg
2012: Retrospective “Leben im Farbrausch“ (A Life in Colours), Castle Schwetzingen, Orangery
2012: ”Teufelswerk“ (Devil’s Work), State Majolica Manufacture Karlsruhe
2013: Aufbruch – Jüngste Werke aus der Heidelberger Phase
(A new era – Most recent works from the Heidelberg phase), Alte Feuerwache Heidelberg
2014: Recent works, Berlin, Temporäre Galerie Potsdamer Straße
2014: New Keil works, Keil Collection Heidelberg, Heidelberg
2014 / 2015: Peter Robert Keil in the Heidelberg city hall, City Hall Heidelberg
Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Volume 79, De Gruyter Verlag, Berlin 2012
Art Profil – Zeitschrift für aktuelle Kunst, Volume 2, 13. Jahrgang 2007
Art Profil – Zeitschrift für aktuelle Kunst, Volume-No. 90-2011
Art Profil – Zeitschrift für aktuelle Kunst, Volume-No. 93-2012
Art Profil – Zeitschrift für aktuelle Kunst, Volume-No. 96-2013
Dietmar Eisold (Hrsg): Lexikon Künstler der DDR Verlag neues Leben Berlin, 2010,
Lust und Leidenschaft/Tod und Teufel. Ein Ausstellungskonzept, Edition Art Flow Berlin, 2011,
Hartmut Pätzke: Register „Ausgebürgert“, in: Hannelore Offner and Klaus Schroeder: Eingegrenzt – Ausgegrenzt.
Bildende Kunst und Parteiherrschaft in der DDR 1961–1989, Akademie Verlag GmbH Berlin, 2000,
Valerie Sottile, Audrey E. Dillon und Michael Sottile: Peter Keil: Neo-Expressionist
Artist, in: The Dial. A Philosophic Art
Journal, Volume LXXXV, Number 2, Winter 2008
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