FRIEZE NEW YORK | 2 - 6 May | Spotlight: Jeff Keen | Stand SP9
Image: Jeff Keen, Secret Comic 1, 1962
Jeff Keen (1923–2012) was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. After studying for a short time on a Commercial Art course at Chelsea, he was drafted into National Service during WWII, after which he moved to Brighton where he lived and worked until his death.
Keen’s work has been the subject of two retrospectives: Shoot the Wrx, Artist and Filmmaker Jeff Keen at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (UK) and Gazwrx: The Films of Jeff Keen at the BFI, Southbank, London (UK). The Hales Project Room, New York (USA) recently held a solo presentation of Keen's work, Cineblatz, following Rayday Film at Hales London (UK) and The Cartoon Theatre of Dr Gaz at Kate MacGarry, London (UK), two solo exhibitions held concurrently in 2016. A major installation, Gazapocalypse – Return to the Golden Age, took place in the Tanks at Tate Modern in September 2012.
Hales is delighted to announce its return to Frieze New York for the fair’s 2018 edition. For this year’s Spotlight section, Hales is bringing together a presentation of 1960s–1970s works by pioneering avant-garde artist, filmmaker and poet Jeff Keen (1923–2012). The rare, historic collages and assemblages in this presentation highlight a pivotal moment in Keen’s career, as he became immersed in 1960s Britain’s countercultural scene and began developing his unique aesthetic.
‘We are all collage artists today’, Keen once proclaimed, ‘switching from one channel to another, re-editing as we go’. His films, for which he is perhaps best known, might be understood as expanded collages: frenetic amalgamations of moving image, sound and a diverse array of characters and influences. It is through collage’s radical disruption that the fragmented textures of a global post-war society are so powerfully expressed in Keen’s oeuvre and in the works in this presentation. War, technology, popular culture – these are the mythic, yet ever-contemporary, themes which converge in the cut-up words, images and books, and the disjointed narratives of Keen’s work.
This presentation centres on the five original 'Secret Comics' Keen created for his poetry broadsheet publication, Amazing Rayday, which were distributed in Brighton and internationally on the underground circuit in the 1960s. These exceptional works reveal how Keen harnessed the language of comic books – their processes, their words, and their energies – to transcend boundaries and capture the spirit of an age.
Dedicated to solo artist presentations of work made in the 20th Century with a special focus on work made post 1960, Spotlight section of Frieze New York explores the unexpected positions from established artists, new research into artists from emerging territories and significant early work from overlooked artists. Spotlight 2018 is curated by Toby Kamps.
Spotlight: Jeff Keen
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