Cubism Paintings by James Keeton


Cubism is a forgotten art form.  Yes, we all have heard of Pablo Picasso and, one of my favorites, Juan Gris.  But very few contemporary artists are still turning to Cubism.  Why is that?  Is it because it is too difficult or just the page in art history that has been turned?   Very few Cubist paintings can be seen at modern art fair.  Yet, Cubist art is one of the world's most recognized art forms and luckily for us James Keeton decided to preserve it.


I met James at the 2018 Hunters Point Shipyard Artists open studios.  Very unassuming and friendly, James was very excited to talk about his art.  We chatted for a few minutes, and I casually took a few photos of his work.  I still have photos of his business card and the "Still-Life in Violet" in my Photos album.  We exchanged a dozen emails while sheltering-in-place during the Covid-19 pandemic in San Francisco.   And now, two years later, I am happy to have his paintings as part of the Art House SF collection.  


Cubism with its shadows and angles, with its straight lines trying to depict nonlinear objects and shapes, with its multiple picture planes slicing the space around us, that Cubism has to live on.  That tradition James is carrying with him in his work.


James Keeton is a painter and educator focused on abstract form, expression, and narrative. Based in San Francisco, he has over 30 years experience as an artist, has been exhibited nationally, and is represented in both public and private collections. He earned his MFA at the University of Florida, and has taught painting and design at the university and high school level. He lived and worked in New York City for sixteen years prior to moving to California. His current work features large-scale paintings focusing on the iconography of fishermen.


In this series, depictions of fishermen serve as a springboard for abstracted images. Color is emphasized, with paintings created in different dominant hues. Horizontal and vertical lines combined with delineated planes reflect an interest in early twentieth century modernism. Due to the rhythmic organization, use of color, and humorous tone, these images have taken a direction entirely their own. The relationship between the subject and the design unify the expression.


The fisherman narrative suggests the struggle of humanity against the sea as portrayed by the authors Melville and Hemingway. Fishermen also evoke a numinous aspect, such as the “fishers of men” described in some religious texts. Each painting’s figure is performing a task associated with the occupation, for example, sharpening a knife, which adds another level of meaning. The fisherman is also a symbol of knowledge because of the substantial learning and wide experience required to master the trade. David Lynch, in Catching the Big Fish, compares deep-sea fishing to the depths of the imagination, stating that far down below the surface is where you catch the big fish.



  • 39th Annual Juried Fine Art Exhibition, 2001 

Beaumont Art League, Beaumont, Texas

  • 35th Annual Open International Exhibition, 2001

Fine Arts Institute of the San Bernardino County Museum, Redlands, California

  • Bold Expressions, 45th Annual Open International Exhibition, 2001

Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Carmichael, California

  •  Organization of Independent Artists Salon Show, 1994

The Prince Building, 578 Broadway, Suite 807, New York City

  • James Keeton and Hadi Ali Abbas, 1991

The University of Central Florida Art Gallery, Orlando, Florida

  • Klamath Juried Open, 1990

Cogley Art Center, Klamath Falls, Oregon

  • Watercolor, USA, 1990

Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Missouri

  • On the Line: Drawings by the University of Florida Art Department Faculty, 1990

Focus Gallery, University of Florida

  • Springfield Art League 70th National Exhibition, 1989

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield, Massachusetts

  • 18th Annual Small Painting Exhibition, 1989

New Mexico Art League Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Ridge Art Association 27th Annual Fine Arts Competition, 1989

Ridge Art Association Gallery, Winter Haven, Florida

  • 48th Anniversary National Juried Art Competition, 1989

Lake Worth Art League Gallery, Lake Worth, Florida

  • Sixth Annual Batavia National Exhibition, 1988

Batavia, New York 

  • 2nd Annual Florida Art Association Invitational, 1988

St. Petersburg, Florida 

  • 15th Annual International Works on Paper Exhibition, 1985

Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas