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 Keanethe credited artist of the weepy waifs, for a San Diego Reader cover story in 1992he 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. And now director Tim Burton is filming a movie about the Keanes called Big Eyes, and it's scheduled for release in 2014. Burton's Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp, was based upon the Feral House book edited and published by Parfrey about the angora sweater-wearing B-film director.
Citizen Keane is a book-length expansion of Parfrey's original article, providing fascinating biographical and sociological details, photographs, color reproductions, and appendices with legal documents and pseudonymous essays by Tom Wolfe inflating big eye art to those painted by the great masters.
Chapter 2: Gray Flannel Suit: The Reinvention of Walter Keane
Chapter 3: Margaret: Life Before Walter
Chapter 4: An Evening at the Hungry i: North Beach Beginnings
Chapter 5: Waif World: Big Eyes, Big Money
Chapter 6: The Split: Going Their Separate Ways
Chapter 7: Down and Out in La Jolla: Walter’s Last Stand
Chapter 8: Epilogue: Tomorrow Forever
"This stunning investigative report pulls back the curtain of maudlin decorative kitsch to reveal the hedonistic and depraved stylings of a true american mountebank” Frank Kozik
"This stunning investigative report pulls back the curtain of maudlin decorative kitsch to reveal the hedonistic and depraved stylings of a true american mountebank” — Frank Kozik