American artist Margaret Keane (1927 –) was never favored by critics or art institutions. Always the paintings of her with children or pets, dominated by her characteristic large eyes, have been described as low-quality art and tending towards kitsch. But instead, her art has been in favor with the public for decades and reached enormous popularity in the 60s and 70s of the last century.
It can be judged as a case with similarities with other American painters, who have been vilified by critics and the artistic elite, but who have had a huge popular impact, as happened with Jim's famous children's portraits, for example Daly or with the cute dog scenes painted by Cooligde.
Margaret Keane's Girl
In fact the work of Keane became tremendously famous when personalities from Hollywood began to buy it, and even reached to portray as is the case with Natalie Wood, Joan Crawford or Jerry Lewis. She even painted for President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's family when he was in theWhite House
And yet, during those times of maximum apogee of her art, it was unknown that Margaret Keane was the author of those quoted paintings.
Natalie Wood by Margaret Keane
Reality isthat Margaret had had a very young daughter and a failed marriage, but then she met W alter Keane, and although they were separated by a few years of age they ended up getting married. This man was a fantastic salesman, capable of selling any type of product. And he saw that the pictures of his young wife had great economic potential.
So he started selling them, and for more and more money. Meanwhile she Margaret did not stop painting and producing pictures with the signatureKeane. W alter took advantage of that and took credit for the paintings for years. Even when his wife found out about her cheating, she stayed with him, in part because of the threats she received from her when she said she was going to reveal the truth.
But she didn't. She was divorced before. And only many years later she began the fight to recover the authorship of her work. Something that she finally got before a jury, where she even challenged her husband to publicly paint a picture of her. Something that she did not do, while she, in front of the public, finished one of her typical works in barely an hour.
That meant recovering her authorship and she had to be compensated by her ex-husband with several million dollars, something that of course she has never received.
So he hasn't made that money, but his influence on many images of American popular culture is undeniable, whether in comics or advertising campaigns, and even movie references, such as Tim Burtonconsider her one of their visual references. So much so that she even made a movie inspired by her biography,whose title could not be other than Big Eyes.