Artist Geoffrey Key Official Website

Artist Geoffrey Key official website


British Painter & Sculptor

Manchester artist Featuring Geoffrey Key

Striking, Surreal Compositions

Geoffrey Key is best known for his bold use of colour, fine draughtsmanship and strong imagination.  His masterly use of form, texture, light and colour brings distinctive character to his artworks. 

Movement and rhythm, space and depth, growth and structure, harmony and contrast, noise and calm… his paintings reverberate with these qualities.


Geoffrey Key attended the local primary and junior schools.  While there, his aptitude for art was soon recognised.  In 1954, he sat the entrance exam for the Manchester High School of Art, where he went on to become a pupil.  The school, which was in the shadow of the imposing Strangeways Prison tower, has long since been demolished.

In 1958, Geoffrey Key entered the Regional College of Art to study for a DA in painting.  While here, he studied under distinguished painters, draughtsmen and sculptors, most notably the late Harry Rutherford.

Harry Rutherford

Image: Harry Rutherford

Harry Rutherford is regarded as one of the most important painters of the Northern School, a group led by LS Lowry that depicted the post-industrial changes around the North West.  Rutherford had been taught by Walter Sickert, who in turn had trained under Edgar Degas.

Artist Geoffrey Key image
Nab Figur paintings Mr Key

Featured artworks

1959 Geoffrey Key self portrait

Geoffrey Key: Self portrait Oil on canvas 1959

1973 oil portrait Geoff key

Geoffrey Key: self portrait Oil on canvas 1973

Subjects that Inspire
“My work has been like one long chain of progression. I latch on to one theme and that decides what the next series will be and then I shoot off on another tangent. Since leaving college, that has not stopped.” 
No particular individual element inspires Geoffrey Key’s choice of subject matter.  With this is mine, he instead likes finding and exploring new and different aspects of whatever he is painting.  However, there have been certain subjects he returns to regularly, and he is perhaps best known for his popular clowns and horses, both powerful images.
His interest in clowns stems, ironically, from a childhood fear of them.  It should perhaps be said that he has now explored them so often and so effectively in his work that this fear must surely have been well and truly exorcised.
Geoffrey Key’s interest in the colour, lines and movement of performance is also shown in his paintings of dancers, jesters and musicians.  It has led to a series of works featuring the Commedia dell’arte, of which he says, “I realised Commedia dell’arte epitomised everything I had done in the past.”
This is covered in the book Infinite Jest.
Click here to view Geoff's studio
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Artist at work: Geoff Key 2019

Geoffrey Key’s paintings are heavily influenced by the school of European Modernism.  This was an influential art movement and philosophy that grew out of the wide scale and far-reaching changes in Western society that took place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Modernist art encompasses many styles, but all are conform to certain underlying principles: a rejection of history and conservative values (such as realistic depiction of subjects); innovation and experimentation with form (the shapes, colours and lines that make up the work) with a tendency to abstraction; and an emphasis on materials, techniques and processes.
“Figures and objects in modern painting may appear distorted... The special forms, evolved from the relation of colour masses, line and composition, to express the painter's reaction to objects, will be the reason for a painting's existence.”
Robert Colquhoun, artist