’90s Indie Rock Fans Will Rejoice at ‘The Steve Keene Art Book’

Posted inFine Art

If beloved indie bands like The Silver Jews or The Apples in Stereo are mainstays in the soundtrack of your life, don’t miss The Steve Keene Art Book, which comes out today via Hat & Beard and Tractor Beam. This expansive, LP-sized tome provides a retrospective look at the career of the fine artist behind iconic images like the cover art for Pavement’s Wowee Zowee. Keene is also famous for his rebelliously unpretentious, cost-accessible approach to fine art, and he’s sold hundreds of thousands of paintings at unbelievably low, low prices, like $5-10.

If you’ve ever wished coffee table books felt more like rock documentaries, you’ll love The Steve Keene Art Book. High-quality photos of Keene’s work are juxtaposed with essays and quotes about his art from an impressive list of “talking heads” like Chan Marshall of Cat Power, Will Oldham, and members of the band Superchunk. You can check out some of his paintings below and buy the book at Hat & Beard.

“This guy must be the most prolific artist of all time.” – artist Shepard Fairey

“[Keene is an] assembly line Picasso” – TIME

“By some measures, Mr. Keene […] is one of the most successful artists in the world.” – New York Times

“Whether they realize it or not, most rock fans of the past 20-odd years, especially indie rock fans, already know the work of artist Steve Keene.” – Variety

“Warhol claimed he wanted to be a machine, but Keene IS a machine.” – artist Ryan McGinness

“…slapdash yet distinctive. The brushstrokes thick, the figures he replicates en masse are
compelling and relatable.” – Brooklyn Magazine

Earlier this month at his first art show since 2019, Steve Keene — one of America’s most collected, beloved, and affordable artists — sold over 500 original artworks. Now, an excerpt from The Steve Keene Art Book is available via the legendary “indie nerd bible” chickfactor, whose editor-in-chief, Gail O’Hara, edited the book. The featured piece is an essay written by Sam Brumbaugh, a curator of Threadwaxing Space, one of the numerous music venues where Keene got his foothold in the NYC downtown indie scene in the 90s. The first ever published collection of his art, the #SKartBook is out June 14 via Hat & Beard and Tractor Beam following a successful Kickstarter campaign with over 600 backers, as profiled in Forbes. Nearly the same size as the LPs that Keene worships, The Steve Keene Art Book is a love letter to the most prolific American artist of all time from his adoring public.

For more about Steve or to see some of his work, click on this documentary playlist: https://bit.ly/3KFzebN

Though perhaps best-known for his deep ties to the 90s indie rock scene — thanks to work with Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, The Silver Jews, Bonnie Prince Billy and more — Keene is a legend amongst music and art fans as much for his cheery, automated style, as for his everyman prices of just $5 – $10 each. After a 30+ year career producing over 300,000 paintings, he’s become what many refer to as the “Johnny Appleseed” of art.

Produced by Daniel Efram over a span of six years, The Steve Keene Art Book was born from efforts to document a 2016 exhibition at legendary artist Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects gallery, but expanded to include original works sent in from dozens of Keene collectors and Kickstarter supporters. The book includes long-form essays and insight into Keene’s life, space and process from rock stars like Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Will Oldham, and members of Superchunk, as well as anecdotes and personal stories from artists like Ryan McGinness and Fairey, journalists, collectors, art-world insiders and devoted fans around the world. Alongside a dazzling collection of 277 of Keene’s works, Efram takes readers into Keene’s utilitarian chain-link “painting cage” for an all-access pass into the artist’s fascinating systemic technique.

Specific details of book:
$95 // Hardcover // 264 pages
Published by Hat & Beard and Tractor Beam
Pre-Order Date: January 25 / Official Pub Date: June 14

Photo Credit Daniel Efram

More about Sam Brumbaugh:
Sam Brumbaugh is a D.C.-based novelist (
Goodbye, Goodness) who has written for Open City, Chickfactor, The Minus Times and Vice. He co-produced the documentary Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt. He is a music producer and programmer who booked shows in NYC in the ’90s, and has worked for the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.