It has been 10 years or so since I first started collecting the
artwork signed KEANE. As I started finding less and less of the actual artwork, I became
more and more interested in searching out the history behind these pieces. That's when I heard stories about
the controversy surrounding the rightful ownership of the art. Ever since I first
read about this- I was determined to meet both Walter and Margaret Keane, and
atleast get a feeling about what type of people the Keanes were. Their story
seemed like fiction, and all of the artwork was equally as fascinating--- certainly these
people must be pretty interesting, and exciting....
Well, I was kind of right. Not "exciting" in the way they were in the 1960's.... no longer lounging by the poolside with their cocktails.
Painting portraits of Natalie Wood or Kim Novak- as seen in one of their many press photos.
Walter currently lives in Southern California, having fun in the sun and not showing his age for a man in his 80's. Margaret on the other
hand is in Northern California, and has always been a very private person-- I knew that she still painted, and has a gallery
in San Francisco. Other than that, I had no idea of what she was like... other than
a shy prolific artist.
So,,, after 10 years of waiting. I finally had a chance to meet Margaret- this summer.
and she was very different than I expected. For starters she is much more
well spoken and graceful than I ever imagined. That may seem a little 'off' to say. The
thing is, I had
imagined her being fragile and introverted- but she wasn't really like that at
Definitely dainty and reserved, yet well spoken.
Her voice was so soft and sweet, but
what she said was very sharp and straightforward. Margaret was no pushover, and that
kind of suprised me.
Hearing her talk, and seeing her mannerisms, and meeting her daughter--- all just
further reinforced to me that she indeed was the creator of the genre. I truly believe
that Margaret's reluctance to make public appearances has made sceptics of
So I did get a chance to hear Margaret basically tell the history of her
career in art, how she met Walter, how he ended up with the credit, how she has
reclaimed her art, and what's she's doing today. All of the details are interesting, but
me trying to explain it- just wouldn't be the same. Nor would I do any of the stories justice. I can tell you however that
many people shared their memories of the Keanes, and what the artwork means to them.
The most fascinating moment, came when a relative of Walters made an announcement that 'the family' knows
that You (Margaret) did all the painting. What a suprise that was.
Anyway, there's not much more to tell than that. I was really happy I had a chance to meet Margaret-
of course I still have tons of questions to ask her, that I didn't have a chance to. And know that it would take
a time machine to figure out all the stuff I wanna know. But for right now, I'm totally content.
1. Margaret in front of her paintings "In the Garden" and "Yesterday's Dollhouse"
2.Dave Burke, Margaret Keane, and Matthew Sweet.