Teary, big-eyed orphans and a multitude of trashy knockoffs epitomized American kitsch art as they clogged thrift stores for decades.
When Adam Parfrey tracked down Walter Keane - the credited artist of the weepy waifs - for a San Diego Reader cover story in 1992, he discovered some shocking facts. Decades of lawsuits and countersuits revealed the reality that Keane was more of a conman than an artist and that he forced his wife, Margaret, to sign his name to her own paintings. As a result those weepy waifs may not have been as capricious an invention as they seemed.
Parfrey's story was reprinted in Juxtapoz magazine and inspired a Margaret Keane exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum. Director Tim Burton made a movie about the Keanes called Big Eyes, which came out in 2014.
Citizen Keane is a book-length expansion of Parfrey's original article, providing fascinating biographical and sociological details.
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Interesting expansion of the movie