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 Peter Keenan  (1896 - 1952)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Ireland      Known for: modernist genre, portrait and mural painting, illustration

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Peter Keenan
An example of work by Peter Keenan
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Biography from Jim's Of Lambertville:
An important member of the New Hope Modernists* painting group, Peter Keenan was born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1896.  Keenan first studied art at the Royal Hibernian Academy* in Ireland before being called to military service.  He was a captain in the British Army serving with the Royal Irish Rifles in World War I. Wounded in action, he spent twenty months in a military hospital.  Upon his recovery, Keenan enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art* in England, graduating with high honors.  He continued his studies at the Ecole des Beaux* in Paris where he was awarded the Prix de Rome* Scholarship in 1922.  

Moving to the United States with his family in 1930, Keenan, first settled in Philadelphia where he worked as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1932, Keenan, with his family, moved to New Hope. There, he would fast become an active force in the art community.

In 1933, Keenan founded and published the Delaware Valley's first art magazine called The New Hope. This groundbreaking magazine extensively covered not only the local art colony, but subjects of both national and international interest in the art world. It was a pro-artist publication covering controversial subjects, including a column called "Review of the Critics," which enabled artists to criticize the work of the art critics, a place where no art publication had gone before.  The New Hope was also heavily weighted towards promoting the Modernists*, not only having local circulation, but reaching key American cities where the contemporary arts were being fostered. The New Hope was published for thirteen issues between 1933 and 1934.  

Keenan's paintings are among the rarest of the New Hope Modernists.  His work is bold and colorful and displays his ability to render subjects in their simplest and most fundamental form.  

Keenan, a father of five, returned to his native Ireland in 1940 to again serve his country in the war at the age of forty-three.  He would remain in Ireland, becoming involved in the paper box manufacturing business until 1947, before returning to New Hope where he resided until the end of his life at the age of fifty-six. 

Keenan exhibited at the Phillips Mill* Art Association and with the Independents in New Hope, also at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the Mellon Gallery.  His paintings have been purchased by the Australian, French, British and United States governments.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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