By Adam Parfrey, Cletus Nelson
Teary, big-eyed orphans and a large number of trashy knockoffs epitomized American kitsch artwork as they clogged thrift shops for decades.
When Adam Parfrey tracked down Walter Keane—the credited artist of the weepy waifs, for a San Diego Reader hide tale in 1992—he stumbled on a few stunning evidence. a long time of complaints and countersuits published the truth that Keane used to be extra of a con guy than an artist, and that he pressured his spouse Margaret to signal his identify to her personal work. for that reason, these weepy waifs would possibly not were as capricious an invention as they seemed.
Parfrey's tale was once reprinted in Juxtapoz journal and encouraged a Margaret Keane exhibition on the Laguna artwork Museum. And now director Tim Burton is filming a film concerning the Keanes known as Big Eyes, and it's scheduled for free up in 2014. Burton's Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp, was once established upon the Feral apartment e-book edited and released via Parfrey concerning the angora sweater-wearing B-film director.
Citizen Keane is a book-length enlargement of Parfrey's unique article, offering interesting biographical and sociological information, pictures, colour reproductions, and appendices with felony files and pseudonymous essays by way of Tom Wolfe inflating large eye paintings to these painted through the nice masters.
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Extra info for Citizen Keane: The Big Lies Behind the Big Eyes
Keane was an unwitting bystander to another historic occurrence. When he was barely four years old, the Eighteenth Amendment was enacted by Congress, making it illegal to sell, manufacture, or transport alcohol until Prohibition was repealed over a dozen years later. This was a contentious issue in Nebraska that pitted the wealthier and more God-fearing Protestant families (“drys”) against the state’s hard-drinking immigrant population (“wets”). Before the ink was dry on the Volstead Act, which enforced the nationwide liquor ban, Nebraskans who opposed Prohibition began setting up backyard stills throughout the state.
But a few years later, the family would travel to Europe on a lengthy trip, and it appears that there the marriage encountered speed bumps. When the couple traveled to Paris and Germany for educational purposes, Walter apparently studied art, while Barbara explored dress design and cooking classes. The family returned via the Queen Mary in August 1950 and the couple would be divorced less than two years later. Records are sparse on the period between the family trip to Europe and when Walter first met Margaret.
Despite his personal worries, he throws himself into the task of building a better Margaret: “The transformation of Margaret into a complete person whom she, herself, could live with and like, loomed as a monumental task. There was, however, something enticing about the challenge. ”38 Walter’s instructions also included teachings on social graces: “To accompany Margaret’s new wardrobe, I suggested a list of greetings and topics for conversation on specific social occasions. ”39 Then came painting: “To give Margaret instruction at the most basic level, I bought her a projector, then you place a photo or page out of the artist’s book in the projector and project it onto a canvas.