Friday, November 10, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Big Lies and Big Eyes

Netflix has the Tim Burton movie movie Big Eyes on offer; we watched it last weekend, without any prior knowledge of its theme. It's another of those "based on a true story" movies - a good one too, well acted by leads Amy Adams, as Margaret Keane, and Christoph Waltz as her husband, Walter Keane.
Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical film directed by Tim Burton, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.... The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes. It follows the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret's phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s. It follows the lawsuit (and trial) between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings.
Not even the kindest art critic would call Margaret Keane's big eyed subjects "great art", some would even refuse to call them art at all; at the time, though, the general public loved these rather sweet whimsical depictions of sad longing, a general public encouraged greatly by Walter Keane's genius-level salesmanship.

From a piece at The Painter's Keys:
Margaret (and Walter) Keane’s “Big Eyes” were called, “the most popular art now being produced in the free world,” by Life Magazine in 1965. New York Times critic John Canaday described them at the time as, “the very definition of tasteless hack work,” and “sentimental kitsch.” Andy Warhol said, “It has to be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it.” Margaret Keane is now 88 [in 2017 she's 90] and lives in Napa, California. She paints daily. Walter Keane died in 2000 at the age of 85. He was never witnessed actually painting.
For a quick look at some of the Keane Big Eye paintings, visit Google Image HERE.

What Walter Keane lacked in artistic talent and truthfulness he made up for in cunning and the ability to turn on the old charismatic sales spiel at the drop of a proverbial hat. In the beginning, according to the movie, Walter was a kindly, charming spouse to Margaret. My husband had him tagged, early on, as "a dork", then "a complete asshole". At first, I offered that Margaret's paintings would never have paid (eventually) for their home, her daughter's education etc. without Walter's sales experience. It had to be looked on as a joint business venture, tentatively agreed to by Margaret, partly from necessity and lack of funds; partly because she was infatuated by Walter, his charm and the facade of his being an artist himself. I changed my mind on Walter, agreeing with my husband the minute Walter began strong-arming Margaret, his marital charm turned to abuse and brutish demands on her work. According to this article, from the LA Times, the movie doesn't paint nearly as dark a picture of their marriage as was the case in real life.

 Photograph from Time Magazine 1965: Margaret and Walter Keane.

I see from Wikipedia's page on Margaret Keane, that she was born on 15 September, 1927, she's now 90 years old. As I haven't found her natal chart online already, I hesitate to post one from my own software, it would seem intrusive while this lady is still among us. I'll say just that her Sun and Venus in meticulous, perfection-seeking Virgo would have felt comfortable, at long last, after the truth was revealed about her "big eye" paintings.


Wisewebwoman said...

I saw the movie a few years back.he was a nasty piece of work.

There's some charm in her work.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ I read that he died in poverty, in 2000 - good result!
Yes, - though a little bit of Big Eye goes a long way! I liked her later style - more in the Modigliani style - elongated faces.