Keith McDaniel (1948 - 1986)

Born: Newark, NJ 1948 – died; Boston, MA 1986
Studied: The Art Institute, Philadalphia
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Keith McDaniel’s is among the unfinished oeuvres of Modern American Realism.  A too short life allowed for an active period of barely a dozen years; yet exhibitions in Reggie Levine’s Main Street Gallery both on Nantucket and in Boston caught the discerning eye of Sara Roby, a New York patroness of the arts, whose foundation supported American figurative painters; artists who might otherwise have been overshadowed during the peak years of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Founded in 1952, the Sara Roby Foundation Collection acquired artworks spanning a period of some 60 years, including works by Jacob Lawrence, Edward Hopper, Will Barnet, Paul Cadmus, Ben Shawn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Reginald Marsh, Gaston Lachaise, William King, Max Weber, George Murphy, Keith McDaniel and others. Administered by the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1955 through the late 60’s, the collection eventually came to be under the jurisdiction of  the American Federation of Arts. In 1984, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, received from Ms. Roby an unrestricted gift of 169 paintings, drawings and sculpture.  Three years later, The Smithsonian mounted the traveling exhibition: “Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Collection from the National Museum of American Art.” The painting pictured above traveled in the exhibition, and is published in the catalog. “On the Wharf” is among 4 paintings acquired by the museum.

“A longtime resident of Boston, McDaniel painted compositions based on the city’s diverse architectural styles. Concerned with both interior and exterior space, McDaniel sought out unusual structures – a fortress on an island in Boston Harbor, wharf buildings on Nantucket Island – finding a unique harmony in their aging architectural forms. Typically unpopulated, McDaniel’s landscapes retain strong geometric overtones. By simplifying lighting patterns and stressing asymmetry in both structure and viewpoint, McDaniel imbued his scenes with an air of mystery and implicit narrative.” ~ Virginia M. Mecklenburg catalog: “Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection from the national Museum of American Art”, Travelling Exhibition (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)

In 1996, USA TODAY reported: “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 1996 estate auction (at Sotheby’s) Lot 1007: “Bath Houses” by Keith McDaniel (est. $1,500-$2,500). $19,550.” McDaniel’s works can be found in private collections from Boston to Palm Beach.

Recent Examples at Auction