Artist Q&A | Christine Keefe

Christine Keefe flag paintings installed at Exhibition The Barn

When Elena first met Christine Keefe, it was a magic moment.

At Keefe’s grand artist studio, with soaring ceilings to house her large-scale paintings, her creative process was on full display: collages of photographs pinned to the wall, open Pantone books for color studies, works in progress, finished works. Moments like these, of wonder and discovery, are what fuel our practice as art advisors.

“I immediately connected with Christine’s work, and was stunned that we hadn’t met yet with both our studios being around the corner from each other in Bridgehampton,” says Elena. “Her use of representational imagery and collage to an abstract effect –hinting at a narrative, but never explicit. Her work brings to mind a composite of my own experiences growing up in Southern California and leading artists of that time.”

We spoke with Keefe to learn more about her inspirations, process, and of course, her work on view our Bridgehampton gallery, Exhibition The Barn.


Tell us about your background. Are there early influences or key events that shaped your work and career?

My family valued art. I was influenced early on by my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather. My grandmother studied sculpture with Jacques Lipschitz at Vassar College. Her sculptures were excellent. My grandfather was the senior art director at McCann Erickson, which at the time was the world’s largest advertising agency. 

When I was 17, I  moved to Texas and started painting 40×60 foot billboards. After six months, I returned to my home town of Greenwich, Connecticut, and started a sign painting company of my own called Creative Sign Company. I painted wooden signs, carved signs, baked aluminum signs, transoms on boats, gold leaf on windows –  basically anything that needed letters or numbers. Then in 1980, I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York City. During my last year there, I met Jim Rosenquist who was both a fine artist and had been a billboard painter. I started painting oil paintings. He and I painted together for about three years. I have been making and showing oil paintings and prints since then. 


Collage and photographic elements are important aspects of your work. Where do you seek inspiration, and how do you incorporate photography into your painting?

I have put together a trove of images over the years. The images are mostly photos I have taken with my camera and printed. Some are also taken from magazines or edges of images. Some are simply compelling colors, shapes, numbers, letters or words; there are no rules or limits on the source imagery. Sometimes I take photos while I’m looking for just the color red or the color green to see where it leads me. Scenes photographed from television or the internet can become part of a future collage. I use large sheets of sheetrock and pushpins to pin up and view the images. Sometimes they need to simmer on the sheetrock for a while next to other images. I move them around, recut, reprint, rephotograph, reprint, manipulate, and finally choose an image or group of images to make into a painting or a print.


Your ‘flag paintings’ currently on view at Exhibition The Barn differ from your earlier works in that they are fully abstract, but also seem to contain a different intention. 

I made the first flag painting when I was painting in a glass greenhouse in Connecticut this past January. The snow on the roof of the greenhouse was so delicate and powdery because it was so cold. My father had just died and I was extremely sad. I was thinking that the blue shape looked like a flag hanging on a windless day and the powdery snow fell the way I felt. I began to think about making “flags” that represented feelings. These works were inspired purely by a state of mind, and so there is no representational imagery. Painting without figurative or representational imagery is fantastically emancipating. The work becomes about color, shape, light, dark, texture, scale, and emotion. Easily explainable ideas are not there.


What’s next? What are you excited about right now?

Right now, I am making eight new paintings and prints for a show opening August 19th in Southampton. I am also working on a project that will be submitted for a new public sculpture intended to be a tribute to the health workers in New York City. And, of course, I am honored and grateful to be currently on view at Exhibition The Barn in Bridgehampton! 


View available works by Christine Keefe.


Christine Keefe flag paintings installed at Exhibition The Barn
Everglades painting installed at Exhibition The Barn
Artist Christine Keefe pictured with her work
Detail of Magenta Flag painting
Christine Keefe paintings installed at Exhibition The Barn
Green Flag by Christine Keefe
Detail of Green Flag by Christine Keefe
Paintings by Christine Keefe and Elizabeth Karsch
Elena Frampton and Christine Keefe
Honey Flag by Christine Keefe
Installation of Christine Keefe painting in progress
Artist Christine Keefe painting in her studio
Elena Frampton pictured with flag paintings by Christine Keefe
Exterior view of Christine Keefe opening at Exhibition The Barn
Installation view of Looking Ahead with rugs by The Rug Company
Four Flag Paintings by Christine Keefe at Exhibition The Barn
Detail of Honey Flag by Christine Keefe
Blue Flag and Green Flag installed at Exhibition The Barn

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141 Maple Lane
Bridgehampton, NY 11932


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