The person responsible
for the insidious
wave of big-eyed waif painting
s that became highly fashionable
in the early seventies
. For those who had never seen them
, think of them as the direct precursor
s to those blasted Precious Moments figurines
you'll see litter
ing thrift store
s all over the midwest
Margaret and her then-husband, Walter, had begun selling these inconsolably sad portraits to the stars in the mid-60's. By that time, they had opened a gallery on North Beach and was becoming known for whipping up brightly-colored 'portraits of the stars', with work commisioned by Natalie Wood, Red Skelton, and countless others. Walter Keane was the business mind behind the gallery - in addition to his own (crude) paintings, he ran the gallery and printed up posters labelled 'Tomorrow's Masters', which were simply his and Margaret's paintings. At one point he began collaborating with Margaret, creating these pictures of massively-yghed urchins. The stars loved them; a craze began; soon, the 'Keane Eyes' paintings were everywhere.
Imitators sprang up like mushrooms after a warm April rain. Heartbreakingly sad orphans began appearing on black velvet all across the country. A man known as 'Gig' created a subgenre of animals with swollen orbs. 'Precious Moments' came a decade later, as the middle-aged nostalgia wave of late 60s and early 70s came on. Through it all, the Keanes made a mint.
In the 80s, they divorced, and Margaret Keane successfully sued her former husband for the money that was made on the sales from the Golden Years of the craze. In court, she claimed that she was the sole creator of the paintings, and backed it up by generating yet another heartstring-yanking waif before the jury's eyes. Walter Keane refused to do the same, citing injuries to his hands. Margaret Keane won the case. (It's believed that Walter, at most, 'finished' his ex-wife's paintings; you can't even call him a tracer.)
Today, you can find a Keane painting anywhere, especially in thrift stores. Thanks to links from the memepool, you can find and sell these big-eyed paintings to many small-eyed collectors the world over.
I had my own sources for this, but thanks to the memepoolian riotnrrd for reminding me of these sucker-of-Satan's-cock paintings.