It was the summer of 1979 and my mom and I hit a yard sale (we loved yard sales). That’s where I picked up my first “Big Eyes” print on board. She was not an original, but a knock off by another artist named Eve. She looked so sad sitting there in her chair, holding her flower. But, even at that young age I was drawn to her. She hung on my bedroom wall for 43 years until I passed her on to a new home, to a new collector through my shop.
I’m sure you recognize this type of style from the 1960’s & 1970’s. The original artist to bring this look to the forefront was Margaret Keane. If you don’t know her story and what she went through as female artist, please watch the epic movie, “Big Eyes” which brings her personal story to light. Margaret Keane just recently passed away.
There were various artists that copied Margaret Keane’s style, but not to the same quality or intensity. Those pieces were typically printed on paper or cheap board and sold at chain stores such as Woolworths.
This week I reached out to a good customer of mine, Leslie DeJesus, who I know collects only the original Margaret Keane works and asked her story on why she started to gather this art. And it was really funny because her story was VERY similar to mine!
Her story goes like this, “So my fascination with “Big Eyes” or Margaret Keane’s art began when I was ten or twelve years old. This would have been about 1985…not the time that these pictures were popular. I remember seeing this picture at a yard sale down the street from my house. I grew up with lots of vintage things from different eras. This spoke to me. Over the years, my dad who was/is an antique dealer would pick them up for me whenever he saw them. I’ve accumulated quite a few! Now that I’m older and for many years, I haven’t seen any I’ve had to buy them online. I only collect Margaret Keane.”
There sure is a collector for everything. Margaret Keane sure did create a following with her unique style. Do you have any “Big Eyes” in your home or do you remember them? Keep your eyes peeled for them (no pun intended!)….The true original Margaret Keane pieces (not the knock offs) can fetch hundreds of dollars!
Happy August! – Kari
Kari Lindstrom owns the popular vintage shop in Jaffrey, NH called The Melamine Cup which opened in 2013. She is past board member of The Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce and has a professional background in career counseling.
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