Teary, big-eyed orphans and a multitude of trashy
knockoffs epitomized American kitsch art as they clogged thrift stores for
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 con
man 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.
Keane is a book-length expansion of Parfrey’s original
article, providing fascinating biographical and sociological details. Download and start listening now!