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David McKee

"I do not think that art must necessarily be very serious."

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Notes of biography

David McKee is born in Plimton (England) in 1935; he attends local schools and remains there until the age of 21. After two years of military service, he moves to London where he joins the Howsen College of Art. Soon, he lives thanks to the production of “cartoons” and humoristic cartoons for the press; he begins a weekly publication in the supplement of “The Times”, a publication that he continues to do nowadays.
But it is the children's books that become quickly his main activity and which make him famous (In 1964, McKee publishes the first of his books for children, “Bronto's Wings “). David McKee leads a double game: to comfort children with signs known to them and to get their parents' attention on communication issues of our time.
It is clear that the educational project developed is very Anglo-Saxon, however its power does not disappear in translation (most David works are translated into 20 languages). McKee chooses always very carefully the details of his designs, preferring not the trivializing stereotype, but the significant objects of our contemporary culture.
Note that several heroes created by David McKee come alive through animated cartoons; “Mr Benn”, for example, is produced in a series of 13 films for the BBC. King Rollo is also one of his famous hero. Who has not met, either in the library of a large museum or library in one’s district, versions or books of the famous Elmer the patchwork elephant and jovial philosopher (appeared for the first time in 1968 in London, Dennis Dobson Ed).
If David McKee is a celebrated worldwide youth writer-illustrator, he is also a talented illustrator and painter too. Wearing two caps, he used to say: “I do not actually change costume. There are different times, different worlds.“ His time, he considers precious is shared between these two activities. He spends his year in both the development of two youths books and an intense personal pictorial research. The long days are punctuated by the artist work on the canvas holder and the work on paper on his desk where the artist expresses himself with the pencil, colored pencil, pastel or gouache.
For several years now, his painted work is regularly shown in solo exhibitions (especially London). The artist now seeks to have his canvas being the sole subject of his painting. Artists and styles he encountered early on have inspired his personal use of lines and color. “I was attracted by Paul Klee, Saul Steinberg, Andre François, or by the clarity of early artists such as Louis Vivin, for example. The bright colors of the Fauves and Matisse have influenced me greatly.
David McKee lives in three countries: England, France and his. . . car; he loves to travel and takes always advantage of his trips to “sketch” (with pencil) thousand of landscapes that make themselves available to him. Into sketchbooks of the same size, so the artist records the feelings captured by the eye. David McKee's gaze, as his soul, is highly original, both humorous and deep.
The artist has a great knowledge of art; his sensitivity leads him particularly to the drawing and he is an unconditional admirer of, among others, Pierre Bonnard and Vuillard. “I like the humor of Picasso. I like the humor of Dubuffet, “he says, too. He shares with Bakhta his companion, a passion for African tribal art.
David McKee, who has long lived on the Cote d'Azur - still owns a studio in Nice - divides his time between Paris and London. David McKee, it is the work - a way of life - and the fun! He feeds himself from watching and creating.

Artists on display

The art and the artists display: proclamations, galleries, museums, personal or collective exhibitions. On walls or in shop windows, wise or rebels, posters warn, argue, show. Some were specially conceived by an artist for such or such event, other, colder, have only the letter.

Some were created in lithographic technic, most are simple offset reproductions. They are many those who like collecting these rectangles of paper, monochrome or in games of colours, in matt paper or brilliant, with many words or almost dumb.

We are happy also to be able to greet, by this pages, mythical galleries as those of Denise René, Louis Carré, Claude Bernard, Berheim Jeune, Maeght, Pierre Loeb and others.

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Complete work(s)

Complete work(s)
Non réalisé à ce jour. All the complete works

Bibliographic track and more

To read about the artist :
  • « David McKee », cat., Galerie M. Dromain, Saint-Paul de Vence, 2002
  • « Elmer a 40 ans », cat., péniche cinéma, La Villette, Paris, 2008
  • « David McKee - Oils », cat. d'exposition, Londres, 2009
  • « David McKee - Oils », cat. d'exposition, Londres, 2011
To read from the artist :
  • « McKee's marvellous adventures », Madelyn Travis, Booktrust, 2010
Website :
No website dedicated to the artist.

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Art movements

+ ARTISTS OF TODAY / XXth century /
All art movements

See & discover

Beyond works currently in stock, it seemed to me useful to combine business with pleasure by letting you discover others works by artists in my gallery. These artworks, now sold or removed from our website, have been in our stock in the past.

These pages will undoubtedly make it possible for some of you to associate an image with its title or the other way round, for others it will be a good time to discover more on such and such artist. For the sake of confidentiality – the pieces being no longer available – we won't display neither their numbering or their price. For whatever reason, make sure to visit this amazing art database with to date 6441 online works just for your pleasure! Michelle Champetier

See & discover