Charles Keller

Obituary -- New York Times, September 17, 2006

KELLER--Charles. 91; died August 21, 2006; BA Cornell, 1936; studied Art Student's League; lithographs, building NYC subway; Art Editor, New Masses; Editorial Cartoonist, People's Daily World. Artists on the Left, Yale, 2002. 20 solo exhibitions: Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY, 1976, Susan Teller Gallery, NYC, 2004. Loving father, joyous patriarch, gifted artist, loyal friend, political activist is deeply missed. Survived by Marthe, Daniel, Kathryn, former wife Judith, grandchildren Alexi, Cara, Colter.
Memorial: (212) 431-6923
Public web site:

Obituary (longer) Charles Keller, beloved father, artist, political activist, mentor and family patriarch, died August 21, 2006, at the age of 91. Born in 1914, graduated Cornell, 1936, he studied at the Art Students League in the 30's. Keller created a series of lithographs, 1937/41 of "sandhogs" workers constructing the 6th Avenue Subway. He collaborated on murals including one at the 1939 New York World's Fair. He organized artists' associations in the 1940's and was part of a thriving artist's community around 14th St. which included Reginald Marsh, Harry Sternberg, Isabel Bishop, Minna Citron, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Raphael Soyer, Rockwell Kent.

During WWII Keller designed the "Airways to Peace" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. His political cartooning began as Art Editor of the New Masses in 1945 and continued until 1988 for the People's Daily World. He was a founder of the art department of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, 1980. He taught and lectured widely including at Vassar College, Hofstra University and Parsons School of Design.

With his family, Keller lived and painted on a co-op farm in Newburgh, NY in the 1950's. He helped organize farm workers with Pete Seeger and others. His passport was revoked until the 1960's when he moved to Rome, Italy for 12 years. Since 1974, he maintained a studio in the East Village, NY, which remains in operation. Keller has exhibited internationally with more than 20 one-person shows including the most recent at The Susan Teller Gallery, NY, in 2004.

His cartoons have been included in "Comic Power" at Exit Art, New York in 1993 and "Cartoons/Politics, Personalities" at Wesleyan University in Ohio and "Salon International de la Caricature" in Montreal, Canada, as well as " Satire: Weapon for Peace", traveling exhibitions in the USSR. Most recently Keller has been included in Andrew Hemingway's book, Artists on the Left, published by Yale University Press in 2002, and Order/Disorder, Architectural Transitions in Prints and Photographs, published by the New York Public Library in 1999. His bibliography extends from 1945 to the present.

Keller's work can be seen in collections such as the British Museum of Art, the NY Public Library, The Boston Museum of Art, The Library of Congress, The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Juilliard School, The Dave and Reba Williams Collection, The Wolfsonian Foundation of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, and The Herbert F. Johnson Museum.

He is survived by Martha Keller (the artist known as Marthe Keller) and Kathryn Keller Rule of NY and Daniel Keller of San Francisco and by his former wife, Judith Keller of NYC, and his three grandchildren, Cara Keller, Alexi Keller, and Colter Rule.

He was much admired for his joie de vivre, his artistic gifts and as a font of insights into political and social history. He was a loving father, gifted teacher, loyal friend and life-long activist for justice and equality. We shall deeply miss his great spirit.

A memorial was celebrated in December, 2006 in New York. Presentations of his art and political work are ongoing. For details, please contact Keller Studio: (212) 431-6923
Obituary -- Collective Endeavor, Winter 2007 Charles Keller obituary in Collective Endeavor, Winter 2007
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