For everybody in New York, the underground filmmaker Jeff Keen is having a 
major retrospective of paintings and films. Check it out. 


Works from the 1960s + 1970s

January 12 – February 11, 2012
Opening Thursday, January 12, 6-8PM

Elizabeth Dee Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition at the 
gallery and United States debut of paintings and films by Jeff Keen [b. 1923, 
UK]. This important first exhibition in New York will explore in depth Keen's 
most influential and fundamental period of work, the 1960s and 1970s, during 
which he established a prolific visual practice extending to five decades of 
drawing, painting, experimental film, concrete poetry and performance.

Keen is primarily known as a legendary underground filmmaker whose work and 
activities coincided with the emergence of expanded cinema. He was one of the 
original participants in the 60s at the London Filmmakers Co-op. The BFI and 
later the British Arts Council supported and enabled Keen to make films and 
devise a multitude of drawings and paintings. During this period, Keen 
maintained jobs as a landscaper in the Parks and Recreation department of his 
hometown, Brighton, and sometimes as a postal worker delivering mail. The 
artist made movies primarily on weekends with his family and friends in an 
ensemble cast and his painting and drawing studio was for 40 years a repository 
of props and art that accumulated to extraordinary effect that has been fully 

Embracing the increasingly available technology of 8mm, 16mm and prevelance of 
American Pop imagery and Comics [and later Punk], Keen employed modes of 
popular media, technology and music in painting, drawing and collage using a 
stop frame animation process and in camera editing, resulting in active and 
evocative films. Utilizing a frequency of speed not found in work of the 
period, Keen, through the possibilities of the medium, brought new life to the 
significance of radical visual media.

Keen was able to merge Surrealist and Dadaist ideology with a social-political 
critique of American consumerism with the spontaneity of the Beat and 60s era. 
These works are avid responses to an overwhelming sense of increasingly 
proliferating media and commodification during the decade. He often explored 
his experiences surviving World War II in this material, focusing on monuments 
of power and the ever-present war within the artist as individual. This took 
the form of invented characters or corporations [i.e. Rayday Films] with 
brands, personas or protagonists in a fractured narrative style. Performative 
and reminiscent of Surrealism's influence on his formative period in the 1950s, 
Keen additionally drew from English Romanticism and his love of language to 
devise a novel method of working in a newly evolving medium.

Keen's work can be viewed today as prescient to modes of film and video that 
began to take cultural references into an exploration of our own larger social 
portraiture. His enthusiastic embrace of alternative modes of discourse in a 
pre-internet age is astoundingly fresh today, and the diversity of his practice 
calls to mind both painters, film and video artists who succeeded him, from 
such figures as Derek Jarman, Richard Hamilton and Linder, to American artists 
such as Jack Smith, Ryan Trecartin and Peter Saul. 

Jeff Keen very rarely exhibited his drawings and paintings. He first showed 
Rayday Film [1968 - 1970] in the First International Underground Film Festival 
at the National Film Theatre in 1970. Upcoming 2012 exhibitions include a 
retrospective at the Brighton and Hove Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, 
London and Tate Modern, London. 

In conjunction with the Jeff Keen exhibition, we are pleased to announce a 
special initiative for 2012, the first of an ongoing series of collaborations 
with galleries who share common philosophies and interests. Anke Kempkis of 
BROADWAY1602 will be our first collaborator to inaugurate the series with the 
related exhibition, Façade is Cracking: Jeff Keen Drawings from the 1950s. This 
exhibition will include film related assemblages and documentation along with 
rare works on paper at her gallery, located at 1181 Broadway [3rd Floor] in 
conjunction with the solo exhibition, Anna Molska Glasshouses. The exhibitions 
open on January 14 and extend to February 28, 2012 with an afternoon reception 
from 3 - 6 on Saturday, January 14. For more information, please contact 
BROADWAY1602 at or +1.212.481.0362.

To refer to documentation of Jeff Keen and screening times of the film program, 
please visit our new website at 

Film Program Selections:
Flick Flack [1964 - 1965, 3 min]
Cineblatz [1967, 3 min]
White Lite [1968, 3 min]
Marvo Movie [1968, 5 min]
Meatdaze [1967, 5 min]
Rayday Film [1968 - 70 + 1976, 13 min]
White Dust [1972, 33 min]
Mad Love [1978, 42 min]

The gallery would like to extend special thanks to Stella Keen and James Mackay 
for making this exhibition possible and to Anke Kempkis for her dedicated 
collaboration on this project. 

For more information: please contact the gallery at +1.212.924.7545 

545 West 20th Street
New York NY 10011
+1 212 924 7545
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