BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Margaret Keane, an internationally recognized artist who painted for over sixty years, passed away Sunday, June 26 at her Napa, California home.
Over the weekend, family, friends, and fans attended her funeral, which was held virtually via zoom Saturday, August 6.
Keane’s work resonated with audiences of various ages and cultures. Her paintings often featured small subjects with comparably large eyes, a technique that seemed to highlight the subject’s deepest emotions and vulnerability.
It was also such a unique technique that it garnered the attention of fellow artists such as Andy Warhol, who reportedly said of Keane’s work, “I think what Keane has done is terrific! If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it.”
Over the years, her paintings even influenced toy designs, including Little Miss No Name, Susie Sad Eyes dolls, and the cartoon The Powerpuff Girls.
In 2014, details about Keane’s life, inspiration, work as an artist, and as a minister were portrayed in a Tim Burton directed biopic, Big Eyes.
Fans in Louisiana who attended her funeral said they appreciated both her work and her spirituality.
One Louisiana resident said, “After attending her memorial, I’m left with the feeling that as an artist, she loved painting, but her realization was knowing there has to be something more than fame or wealth… that was the turning point for finding peace and truly being happy.”
Mr. Jones, another Louisiana native who had the opportunity to meet Keane when she lived in Hawaii, shared a similar sentiment, saying, “My wife and I attended the memorial service for the prolific artist Margaret Keane yesterday. Having met her in Honolulu some 35 years ago, we were familiar with some of her well known paintings of animals and children with large vivacious sad eyes.”
He went on to explain why many of her earlier paintings were rather haunting in comparison with her later work, which seemed to feature more cheerful subjects. Jones said, “After she learned through Bible study of a much happier future, the eyes of her paintings became wonderfully happy eyes, eyes of hope and satisfaction. Unfortunately, the 2016 flood decimated most of her beautiful artwork that we had acquired. Happily, a few remain. She lived a long life, the latter half filled with marvelous hope.”
Keane’s work is featured on her website, which can be accessed here.
A brief autobiography, written by Keane in 1975, is available to read here.