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Somebody order a nightmare?

pity kitties

I owned this particular set of prints, which I ordered from the back of some magazine in, like, 1967. Four for a buck. The artist was called Gig and the genre was called Pity Kitties (and Pitty Puppies, Pitty Cubs and God knows what these are, but Gig painted them). Thanks to Gig, I wander the earth in fixed belief that millions of adorable kittens die every day for want of ham sammiches and weasel smoochies.

If I ever find Gig, I’m going to murder him. Murder him until he’s dead.

That’s not likely. There’s considerable mystery around the profusion of Big-Eye artists of the Fifties and Sixties: Gig, Eve, Mikki, Lee, Eden, Maio (something in addition to their tardonyms). No-one seems to know anything about them, and efforts to learn more have so far been fruitless (I’m guessing there’s shame and a great deal of soul-destroying guilt involved).

An exception is Walter Keane, who may have been the one to start it all. His schtick was big-eyed waifs, though it wasn’t really his schtick — the paintings were actually done by his wife, Margaret. But they were signed “Walter” and it was a hugely lucrative business, so when came the divorce, Walter claimed to be the actual painter.

To make her case, Margaret tore one off in front of the judge in Federal court (by which I mean painted a waif, not farted). Walter declined to paint one himself, on account of “his arm was sore.” She won.

Having a portrait painted by Margaret Keane was briefly in vogue among those refined citizens of Hollywood. Such noted aesthetes as Jerry Lewis, Liberace and Kim Novak sat for her. Natalie Wood and Joan Crawford were huge fans.

Keane is 81 and still painting. One of her bug-eyed originals will set you back tens of thousands nowadays. After she left Walter, she blissed out with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and currently describes her hypereyeballic waifs as weeping “tears of happiness.”

Get this: Kate Hudson is starring as Margaret Keane in a film called Big Eyes that will start production any day now. It’s a drama. About feminism. Kidding? Not.

This makes Weasel very sad.

July 7, 2008 — 11:10 am
Comments: 93