Margaret Keane is a known American female artist who got famous for drawing paintings of animals and people with interestingly big eyes.
She was born as Peggy Doris Hawkins on September 15, 1927 in Nashville in Tennessee in United States.
She was just a toddler when her eardrum was damaged during a medical operation so she couldn’t hear any more. She has learned to read people’s facial expressions and lips in order to understand them, focusing especially on their eyes and the way they looked at her. Many people say that the fact she lost her hearing affected her other senses, such as vision, and that she had an easier time focusing on art.
She got interested in drawing as a child and started taking classes in Nashville’s Watkins Art Institute later. She claims that this was one of her favorite things to do.
She enrolled the Traphagen Design School in NY, but stayed there for only one year. She always used oil-based paints and painted only children, women and domestic animals such as cats and dogs. She painted them because she was mesmerized by their eyes.
Margaret met her husband Walter in the 50s. They met each other at North Beach anf he fell in love with her although he was already married, worked in real-estates and wasn’t unhappy in his marriage. Margaret was also married and had a child of her own. She also didn’t plan this to happen.
After they got married in 1955 he started selling her pictures but told everyone it was his work. She had to claim in public that he painted him because he threatened her life.
The paintings were becoming more and more popular and it was hard for Margaret to watch how her husbands enjoys in the fruits of her work.
In 1957 her husband Walter started showing off paintings in galeries and they started to sell for big amounts of money. They were hanged on walls in banks and in hotels, rich people wanted to buy them for their homes, etc.
Walter started promoting the work as “The Painting Keanes”.
In 1960s he was so popular that even Andy Warhol thought he was a magnificient painter and spoke of Walter as a great artist.
Her paintings were so popular that she had to paint up to 15 hours a day in order to fulfill her husbands demands. He became greedy for money and fame so he pressured her to make more paintings and work harder. She said that she slowly started to back away from him since their love has gone cold and she started to feel as if she was abused for cash.
In 1970 she wasn’t married to Walter anymore since she decided to tell everyone that she is the real painter of those paintings and didn’t want to be scared no more. She announced it on the radio but people didn’t believe that she was the painter. She had a hard time becoming recognized after this big incident.
In 1986 she sued Walter for stealing her work for himself. The judge ordered both her and Walter to create a painting right there in the courtroom. Walter declined to do it but she painted one in less than an hour so the court gave her $4 million for compensation.
She moved to Hawaii where she followed meditation and astrology after what she became a Jehovah’s Witness. She claims that her soul became much more peaceful.
She made portraits for Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood and more on their request.
In 2014, a known producer Tim Burton made an autobiographical film about her life called “Big Eyes”.
The Powerpuff Girls, a popular children cartoon was influenced by her paintings. They characters have extremely big eyes, just like her beautiful paintings do.
Her first husband was Frank Ulbrich and they had a daughter together. It was the man she left after she met Walter.
She married Walter in 1955 but divorced him ten years later. After the divorce she moved to Hawaii. She married Dan McGuire in 1970 in Hawaii. They were together 25 years. After he died she returned to California in the 1990s.
Full name: Peggy Doris Hawkins
Date of birth: September 15, 1927
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee, United States.
Net Worth: $1million