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Big Eyes painting by Margaret Keane

Big Eyes painting by Margaret Keane

A girl with a mask. Big Eyes painting by Margaret Keane

Big Eyes painting by Margaret Keane
Born Peggy Doris Hawkins in 1927, American artist Margaret D. H. Keane became famous for portraits of women and children, the hallmark of which are exaggerated big eyes. However, in the 60-ies of XX century her works were sold under the name of her husband Walter Keane. And in 1970 she officially declared the true authorship of the works, and then had to testify in court against the former spouse. The court acknowledged authorship of the artist, after which she received $ 4 million compensation. Meanwhile, the biography of Margaret Keane became the basis for the film of Tim Burton “Big eyes”. By the way, in Russia it appeared January 8, 2015.

Painting by American artist Margaret D. H. Keane

Three women. Painting by American artist Margaret D. H. Keane

I think that the best option would be the narrative memories of the Margaret …

“You may have seen a picture of a pensive child with unusually large and sad eyes. It’s possible it was drawn by me. Unfortunately, I was as unhappy as children, whom I drew. I grew up in the southern United States, in the region, often called the “Bible Belt.” Perhaps it is this environment, or my grandmother, a Methodist, but it instilled in me a deep respect for the Bible, even though I knew very little about it. I grew up believing in God, but with a lot of unanswered questions. I was a sickly child, lonely and very shy, but I soon discovered a talent for drawing”.

“Inquisitive nature led me to wonder about the meaning of life, why we are here, why there is pain, sorrow and death, if God is good?”

“Always,” Why? “. These questions, I think, later reflected in the eyes of the children in my pictures, if which addressed to the whole world. The look was described as penetrating into the soul. They seemed to reflect the spiritual alienation of most people today, their yearning for something beyond what is offered by this system.”

“My path to popularity in the art world was arduous. There were two broken marriages and a lot of mental anguish along the way. The debate surrounding my privacy and authorship of my paintings have led to lawsuits, front-page pictures and even articles in the international media. For many years I allowed my second husband to be called the author of my paintings. But one day, no longer able to continue the deception, I left him and my house in California and moved to Hawaii.

After a period of depression when I painted very little, I began to rebuild my life and later remarried. One turning point occurred in 1970 when a newspaper reporter made a show on television – competition between me and my ex-husband, which was held at Union Square in San Francisco, to establish the authorship of pictures. I was all alone, accepted the challenge. Life magazine highlighted this event in an article that has corrected the previous erroneous story where the authorship of pictures was attributed to my ex-husband. My participation in the fraud lasted for twelve years and is the one thing I will always regret. However, it has taught me to appreciate the opportunity to be true and that neither fame nor love nor money, nor anything else is worth a guilty conscience.

I still have questions about life and God and they led me to search for answers in strange and dangerous places. Looking for answers, I studied the occult, astrology, palmistry, and even handwriting analysis. My love of art led me to explore many ancient cultures and their main provisions, which were reflected in their art. I have read volumes on the eastern philosophy, and even tried transcendental meditation. My spiritual hunger led me to explore various religious beliefs of people who came into my life.

On both sides of my family and among my friends I talked to various Protestant religions, in addition to trainers, including from Christian teachings, Mormons, Lutherans and Unitarians. When I married my current husband, a Catholic, I seriously investigate this religion.

I still have not found satisfactory answers, there were always contradictions and always something missed. Except for this (without the answers to the big questions of life), my life finally began to improve. I reached almost everything I’ve ever wanted. Most of my time was spent on what I loved to do most – paint children (mostly young girls) with big eyes. I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful marriage, a beautiful daughter and financial stability, and I live in my favorite place on earth, Hawaii. But at times I wondered why I was not completely satisfied, why I smoked and sometimes drank too much and why I was so tense. I did not know that my life has become selfish in my pursuit of personal happiness.”

Animator Craig McCracken, creator of the animated television series The Powerpuff Girls (out in 1998-2005) admitted that the heroes of the series inspired by the works of Margaret Keane, also present in it the character of a teacher named Miss Keane.

In December 2014 (in Russia in January 2015) was the release of Tim Burton’s Big eyes, about the life of Margaret Keane, period of popularity of her works sold under the name Walter and subsequent divorce. Tim Burton himself is the owner of the collection of works by Margaret Keane and in 90s ordered the portrait of his girlfriend Lisa Marie to the painter. The role of Margaret in the film plays Amy Adams.

Big Eyes painting by Margaret Keane