“The work is very sensual, and it’s very much about the gesture on the surface,” Schouwink said of De Keyser’s work. “He really makes you scrutinize and question what a painting is…sometimes the gestures are very crude, but there’s always a lot of life in them.”
Other milestones followed from Documenta. Frank Demaegd, co-founder of Zeno X
in Antwerp, noted a few, including De Keyser’s participation in 1993’s “The Broken Mirror” in Vienna (co-curated by Kasper König and Hans Ulrich Obrist); a 2001 solo survey at the Renaissance Society in Chicago; and inclusion in the 2007 Venice Biennale, curated by Robert Storr.
This steady curatorial support has been matched by rising prices, with many De Keyser works far surpassing their estimates at auction in the lead-up to the recent record-breaking results. In a 2018 De Vuyst sale, Cordon (1999–2000)—a floating array of green and brown ovoid shapes—achieved €60,480 ($69,400) on an estimate of €40,000–€50,000 ($46,000–$57,000). A hazy 1991 watercolor on paper, offered in an online Christie’s auction that same year, walloped its $3,000–$5,000 estimate to reach $13,750. A modest 17.5-by-11.2-inch abstraction on cardboard, painted in 1996, blew past its €4,000–€4,800 ($4,700–5,600) estimate to hit €17,500 ($20,500) at a 2018 auction hosted by Karl & Faber.