Keane, Kroger and Medeiros were all contemporaries and neighbors of sorts as they all resided in California. The big-eyed waif images sold like pancakes and the artists who created and sold their images to copyrighted publishing companies often felt they needed to justify their works. Withstanding ridicule for producing kitsch art in order to make money and do what you love - there's a lessen there - and has been the way of the artist for all time.
Keane is probably the most recognized big eyed waif artist of the 60's
She has a big following and created work under the name of her husband Walter Keane. She is still producing work.
This is in part from the San Francisco Chronicle article written by Dan Levy on Thursday, January 4, 2001
Walter Keane, a flamboyant 1950s and '60s North Beach artist best known for portraits of sad, doe-eyed children that became a worldwide sensation, died Dec. 27 2000 at an Encinitas hospital. He was 85. Until the end, though, Mr. Keane insisted he was the creator of the big- eyed children. In 1991, he told The Chronicle, "I painted the waifs of the world."
He had three wives and Margaret Keane was in the middle. "Mr. Keane is survived by his ex-wives, Barbara Mearns of Carmel, Margaret Keane of Sebastopol, and Joan Keane of Vancouver, British Columbia. There was an ongoing feud about the use of his name, the creative authorship. The famous "Keane" pictures started out depicting big-eyed waifs and runaways but later graduated to big-eyed dogs, giraffes, geishas and grown adults, was the subject of a decades-long controversy. The stakes were high: millions of dollars in copyright fees. Both Mr. Keane and his second wife, Margaret Keane, also a San Francisco painter, claimed to be the creator. After his death, Margaret kept painting - her online gallery is http://www.margaretkeane.com.
The dispute came to a climax in a 1986 lawsuit, when a federal judge in Honolulu ordered both Walter and Margaret Keane to paint pictures for the jury. Margaret produced a likeness of a big-eyed child in 54 minutes. Mr. Keane declined to paint, saying he had a sore shoulder. There was also a scheduled Union Square "paint-off" in 1970, covered in Life magazine, where Margaret again produced a painting but Walter failed to attend. Herb Caen, who knew Mr. Keane from his North Beach days, concluded in a 1991 column that Margaret Keane was the real painter.
Mr. Keane was born Oct. 7, 1915, in Lincoln, Neb. He was one of 10 children from his father's second marriage and grew up in a white clapboard house near the center of the city. As a child, he made money by selling shoes. Friends said in later life he proved to be a great promoter and salesman. He moved to Los Angeles in the early '30s and attended Los Angeles City College. He also spent time in Paris as a young man and told friends later in life that he had studied art there.
The inspiration for the big eyes, he said, came from seeing despairing street children in war-torn Berlin after World War II. In San Francisco during the postwar Bohemian era, Mr. Keane cut a dashing figure in North Beach. His sometimes raucous escapades were noted in newspaper columns, including an altercation with Hungry I club owner Enrico Banducci.
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