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Thing of beauty

Edwin Keiffer Biography


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Ed Keiffer grew up in New Orleans in the 1920s, and the color, the beauty, and the intoxicating rhythms of the Crescent City glow through his paintings. So does the gritty vitality of its street-corner bons vivants and ladies of the night. As a child, Keiffer observed the bawdy world around him, absorbed the music of jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Ma Rainey, and dreamed of becoming a painter.

When World War II broke out, he joined the Marines and spent five years on active duty — much of it in bloody Pacific theater combat. In 1945, with peace declared and the GI Bill at his command, Ed headed for New York and enrolled in the Art Students' League. After completing his studies in 1949, he stayed on in the city for another 10 years, teaching art to children at the East Side Settlement House and helping launch its famed Winter Antiques Show. It was during this period that he began the work for which he is best known -- and to which he returned again and again throughout his career: large, vibrant acrylics portraying the heyday of New Orleans jazz and sporting life.

Subsequently, Ed studied at La Grande Chaumiere in Paris, then settled his family in Rhode Island, with extended periods of painting in Mexico, Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. From each of these places emerged landscapes, still lifes and nudes that exhibit the same qualities he brought to his jazz paintings: a superb, Fauve-like color sense, an eye for the elegant details of everyday life, and a firm grounding in the New Orleans philosophy of letting the good times roll.

by Vicki Webster

Exhibitions (a representative selection)

Addison Gallery, Andover, Massachusetts

Art USA, New York

Audubon Artists, New York

Bristol Art Museum, Rhode Island

Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio (10-year Retrospective, 1990)

Detroit Art Institute

Ferry Road Gallery, Saunderstown, Rhode Island

Galerie Philadelphia, Paris

New Haven Arts Festival

New York City Center

Newport Art Association, Rhode Island

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Providence Art Club, Rhode Island

Silvermine Guild of Artists, Connecticut

The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida

University of Rhode Island, Providence

Dorothy Rogers Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM


Collections (selected)

Addison Gallery, Andover, Massachusetts

Infoplan, Inc., New York

Interpublic, Inc., London

Brockton Art Museum, Massachusetts

Hale, Grant, Myerson & O'Brien, New York

Citizens Savings Bank, Providence, Rhode Island

Dorothy Rogers Collection, Santa F,e NM