Tony Keeler Biography

 

Tony Keeler is regarded as one of the important figures who broke ground in the evolution of Spanish photography during the 1960´s and 1970´s. Keeler is first and foremost a portraitist. This feature is prevalent in his work throughout virtually every period spanning his career. His main trademark can be seen in the special technique he employs of making black and white portraits with highly grainy texture. Keeler possesses a unique ability to capture the essence of his subject’s personalities with a split second speed of the shutter.

 

Tony Keeler was born in 1933 in Greenwich , Connecticut , United States . After completing his studies at Harvard University in 1956, his true calling in life led him to take up photography. In 1960, Keeler immigrated to Catalonia , Spain and set up a photography studio in the coastal village of Sitges , where he and his family reside to this day.

 

During the 1960’s Keeler combined his work at his portrait studio with documentary photography. Thus, his passion for flamenco music brought him to Andalusia where he documented the culture of the rural villages and befriended legendary artists of flamenco such as Diego del Gastor. Apart from their high aesthetic value, these photographs have considerable historical significance, given that there are a very limited number of photographs available anywhere which capture the flamenco sub-culture of that period.

 

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Tony Keeler also travelled frequently to the seaside village of Cadaqués , which at the time was a meeting point for many Catalan artists. Keeler offers a very personal and extended document of the unique atmosphere in Cadaqués during those years, with the painter Salvador Dalí as central figure.

 

Between the period of 1970-1980, Keeler´s work became mainly focused on the island of Ibiza . Keeler was drawn to the romantic spirit of the hippies who came to the island from all over the world. Keeler combined his photographic work with the management of his photography gallery located in the port of Ibiza . In his book “ Ibiza a dream” Keeler demonstrates his most poetic facet, blending the human figure with the mystery and beauty of nature.

 

Between 1980 and 1985 Keeler made numerous journeys throughout Asia and Latin America collecting illustrative images of the various atmospheres and cultures. Between 1980 and the present date, Keeler has been carrying out a thorough photographic study of Sub Saharan Africa, travelling in stages throughout the various countries along the Sahel, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean . Keeler portrays the unique qualities of the people within these cultures with great aesthetic sensitivity. In 1988, Tony Keeler returned to Cuba after thirty years. There, he discovered that many of the elements that had attracted him to the island, still remain. Since then, he has returned to Cuba on numerous occasions to document visual impressions of contemporary Cuban culture, with its complexities as well as its beauty and charm.

 

Tony Keeler regards Ortiz Echague and Walker Evans to be his main influences. Like these photographers, Keeler is mainly interested in the human factor. The notable feature which is prevalent in much of his work is an uncanny ability to get people to respond favourably to having him take extreme close up portraits of them.