Margaret Keane
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Margaret Keane

Big Eyes

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About Her

Grew up… in Tennessee in the 1950s, a time when women were only allowed to do one job: housework. Despite the fact that she trained at the Watkins Art Institute in Nashville, she has been consigned to being a housewife: “I’ve never acted freely. I was a daughter, and then a wife, and then a mother.”

Living… in the swinging San Francisco of the 1960s. Margaret picked up and left her husband for a new life in the big city with nothing but her paintings and her daughter. While the rest of the city lit up marijuana joints, the wholesome Margaret spent her weekends painting portraits in the park, where she met fellow artist and now husband, Walter Keane.   

Profession… aspiring artist. Margaret and Walter shared the dream of becoming artists together, but, whether by accident or design, Walter has abandoned his own work and ended up taking credit for Margaret’s sensational portraits. She spends her time locked in a room, painting pictures of children with big eyes. Even Warhol has praised her work!

Relationship Status… married – or, more accurately, imprisoned. Margaret lives in a gilded cage, locked in a room and forced to produce her world-famous paintings while Walter hogs the spotlight.

Challenge… getting out of another abusive marriage and taking credit for her work. Margaret isn’t just a kept woman; she’s become a painting slave, churning out Big Eye after Big Eye for her narcissistic husband, Walter. She knows she should leave him, but is worried that the world won’t believe the cries of a poor little housewife. 

Personality… vulnerable, timid, and sensitive. Margaret Keane has both talent and strength, but she’s never been very good at standing up for herself. Though when she’s pushed to the limits, she’ll do just about anything to protect herself and her beloved daughter.

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