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Anonymous, Keys to the City

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Keys to the City by an anonymous artist.

About the Work

Titles : Keys to the City
Artist : Anonymous
Medium : paint, plaster, keys and cloth on plywood
Dimensions : 30″ x 50″
Location : Museum of Bad Art

This work loosely alludes to a sense of overpopulation due to urbanisation. The volume of keys per building seems to indicate the number of residents. The living spaces are most likely compact. A river flows through the city with a steady stream of incoming out-of-proportion sailboats. The boats seem to simply pass through the width of the painting, not stopping at the city – perhaps because there are already too many people there? The skyline is less than impressive.

The artist seems to have little regard for perspective, application of paint and general spatial concerns – though the keys seem to add a certain je ne sais quoi. A perfect fit for the MOBA – we think!

Other Details

Keys to the City housed in the Museum of Bad Art. It is part of the museum’s collection of Unlikely Landscapes, Cityscapes and Still Lifes. The work was purchased from a thrift store in Boston.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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