Keith McDaniel (1948-1986)

Keith McDaniel (1948 - 1986) was born in Newark, NJ in 1948 and passed away in Boston, MA in 1986. He studied at The Art Institute in Philadelphia and primarily created large scale acrylic on canvas paintings.

McDaniel, a Boston resident, drew inspiration from the city's diverse architectural styles. His compositions often depicted unique structures such as a fortress on a Boston Harbor island or wharf buildings on Nantucket Island. Focusing on both interior and exterior spaces, McDaniel's landscapes retained geometric precision, often devoid of human presence. Through simplifying lighting and emphasizing asymmetry, he infused his scenes with a sense of mystery and implicit narrative.

McDaniel's artistic career, though brief, left a mark on the landscape of Modern American Realism. Despite spanning only around a dozen years, his talent garnered attention. Exhibitions at Reggie Levine’s Main Street Gallery in Nantucket and Boston caught the discerning eye of Sara Roby, a patroness of the arts from New York. Roby's foundation supported American figurative painters, providing a platform for artists who might have been overshadowed during the dominance of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, established in 1952, amassed artworks spanning six decades, including pieces by prominent artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Edward Hopper, and Keith McDaniel. Initially administered by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the collection eventually fell under the American Federation of Arts' jurisdiction. In 1984, the National Museum of American Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution, received an unrestricted gift of 169 artworks from Roby. Three years later, The Smithsonian organized a traveling exhibition titled "Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Collection from the National Museum of American Art," featuring McDaniel's work, including "On the Wharf," one of four paintings acquired by the museum.

In 1996, McDaniel's painting "Bath Houses" was auctioned at Sotheby's as part of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's estate, fetching a price of $19,550. McDaniel's works continue to find homes in private collections across various locations, from Boston to Palm Beach.


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