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 Margaret (Hawkins) Keane  (1927 - )

About: Margaret (Hawkins) Keane


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Lived/Active: California/Tennessee      Known for: modernist sad child figure painting, portraiture

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BIOGRAPHY for Margaret Keane
1927 (Nashville, Tennessee)

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modernist sad child figure painting, portraiture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Margaret Keane (born 1927) is an American artist. She is an illustrator and painter, and mainly draws women and children in oil or mixed media. Her works are instantly recognizable (although often imitated) from the doe-eyed children that are depicted in the drawings.

Margaret D. H. Keane was born 1927 in Tennessee, and attributes her deep respect for the Bible and inspirations of her artwork to the relationship with her grandmother. She later became one of Jehovah's Witnesses, which she said changed her life for the better.

In the 1960s, Margaret Keane's artwork was sold under the name of her husband, Walter Keane. He locked her in a room and forced her to paint,while taking credit for her work. Conflict over that issue was cited as one of the reasons they divorced. Neither wanting to relinquish rights to the artwork, Walter and Margaret's divorce proceedings went all the way to federal court. At the hearing, Margaret created a painting in front of the judge to prove that she was the artist. Walter declined to paint before the court, citing a sore shoulder. In 1986, the courts sided with her, enabling her to paint under her own name.

Her works while living in her husband's shadow tended to depict sad children in a dark setting, but after divorcing, moving to Hawaii, and becoming one of Jehovah's Witnesses, her paintings took on a happier, brighter style. Her website now advertises her work as having "tears of joy" or "tears of happiness".

Keane is a fixture in popular culture. Some of her well-known fans over the years have included actresses Joan Crawford and Natalie Wood, whom she painted portraits of; filmmaker Tim Burton, who commissioned Keane to paint Lisa Marie; and animator Craig McCracken, whose characters the Powerpuff Girls are based on Keane's 'waifs'; additionally the Girls' schoolteacher is named "Ms. Keane".

Currently Margaret makes her home in Napa County, California. She will be portrayed by Amy Adams in the upcoming Tim Burton film Big Eyes.

Cultural references
    ?    The American television comedy show Saturday Night Live once had a skit that featured her work, during the time when it was thought to be by her husband, as a parody of the reaction against modern art (e.g., Cubism or the New York Armory Show). "People don't look like that!" one comedian shrieks, before the picture in question was shown to the camera and audience as the punch line.
    ?    In Woody Allen's 1973 comedy Sleeper, the people of the future consider Keane to be one of the greatest artists in history, one of many references mocking the popular culture of the seventies.
    ?    Late Night with Conan O'Brien has "bumper" art in her style depicting a glum Conan O'Brien at his desk, next to a dog.
    ?    Weird Al Yankovic's song Velvet Elvis, in which the narrator says he needs "no pictures of Mexican kids with those really big eyes or dogs playing poker".
    ?    In season 3, episode 20 of 90210 (Women on the Verge), Annie is described as looking "like a Keane painting."
    ?    In the American television comedy series Newhart, Michael (played by Peter Scolari), in search of his artistic muse, has been painting obsessively. When Bob (Bob Newhart) looks at Michael's "masterpiece" his puzzled observation is "Children with big ears?"
    ?    A Keane painting is featured briefly in a music video for American band Devo's song R U Experienced?, first as an effect when lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh's head morphs to become the child from the painting, and then again shortly after as the painting hanging on the wall of a home in the video.

"Margaret Keane", Wikipedia, (Accessed 4/23/2013)

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The painter of sad-eyed children with wide black eyes, Margaret Keane was discovered in the 1970s by Curator Tyler Stallings of the Laguna Art Museum, who first saw her work when K-mart sold cheap reproductions.

She divorced her second husband, Walter, in 1965, who claimed he had done the paintings which were signed "Keane," but a trial before a judge settled that discussion when the judge asked each of them to draw a picture. She did so readily, and her husband declined.

Margaret D. H. Keane was born in 1927 in Tennessee and makes her home in California.

She became a Jehovah's Witness in 1972 after her divorce and briefly moved to Hawaii.

Public collections:
The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Madrid; The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; National Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City; Musee Communal Des Beaux-Arts, Bruges; Tennessee Fine Arts Museum, Nashville, Tennessee; Brooks Memorial Museum, Memphis, Tennessee; Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu; The United Nations, New York City and others.

Solo Shows:
The Brussels Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair, by special invitation of the Belgian government; Tokyo American Cultural Center in Tokyo, sponsored by the U.S. State Department; National Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid and galleries in New York, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, San Francisco and Beverly Hills, among others.

She was named a Fellow of The Society of Western Artists after exhibiting in three Annual Juried Shows in the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

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