Sun. Sep 25th, 2022


Margaret Keane, Big Eyes, death, Tim Burton

Margaret Keane, whose big-eyed art style became a cornerstone of pop culture in the 20th century, passed away at 94. Her death was reported on her official Facebook page on June 29, 2022. According to the post, Keane died Sunday in her home in Napa, California, due to heart failure. In addition to making headlines for her unique art, Keane was involved in a long battle with her husband over his fraudulent claims of authorship of Keane’s work. The art community widely discussed the controversy, which inspired the 2014 Tim Burton biopic Big Eyes.

Keane’s signature art style typically involved her painting portraits of children with large, almond eyes and frail body construction. Keane became hugely popular during the 1950s and ’60s, with critics and fans falling for her disturbingly delicate approach to visual arts.

According to many sources, Kean began painting as a child and, at 18, attended the Traphagen School Of Design in New York City. Her career reached new heights in the mid-1950s when her second husband, Walter Keane, began marketing the ‘big eyes’ paintings and selling them to the Hungry, a comedy club in San Francisco, in New York City’s Washington Square and during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Walter claimed he was the artist responsible for the famous paintings, effectively stealing his wife’s work. After learning about his deception, Margaret played along for a finite time. She feared for her daughter’s safety if she did not indulge Walter in his abuse.

In 1964, Keane’s paintings were selling for $2 million apiece, and Walter was an outstanding salesman. Museums were also interested in collecting and displaying pieces, which fetched a pretty penny and then some. Even after the couple split up, Walter continued his ruse. Then, in 1970, Margaret announced that she was responsible for the paintings. In 1986, Margaret sued Walter for defamation over his continued false claims. To strengthen her case, she challenged Walter to a painting contest. It did not take long for members of the court to see that Walter was full of shit and that Margaret was the real ‘big eyes’ artist. She won $4 million in damages but squeezed little else from Walter, who was broke when he lost the case.

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes was released in 2014 and starred Amy Adams as Margaret Keane. Walter Keane was portrayed by Christoph Waltz, with Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp, and Jon Polito also starring.

Big Eyes screenwriter Larry Karaszewski paid tribute to Keane via Facebook, saying, “Margaret Keane has passed on,” he wrote. “Grateful we all got to spend so much time getting to know her beautiful spirit. It took a decade to bring ‘Big Eyes’ to the screen. But her tale of surviving abuse was important. She wanted the world to know the truth about her life and art.”

Many of us here at JoBlo are fans of Keane’s work and wish her safe passage to the Great Hereafter. We’re also pleased that she eventually got the credit she deserves for her incredible and influential art. Rest easy, Margaret. We’ll miss you.

By admin