They were called the “big eyes” paintings, were signed simply KEANE, and “had a big impact around the time I was growing up,” Burton says. The images of exaggeratedly sad-eyed waifs were, in fact, a pop phenomenon, and the painter Walter Keane became a celebrity, appearing on the Tonight show and seeing his work enter the United Nations’ collection. Eventually, the strange story turned even stranger: Keane’s wife, Margaret, revealed that she’d done all his painting for him. What Burton calls their “complicated, weird relationship” is the subject of his new film; Margaret, now 87, is played by Amy Adams — who, Burton says, learned how to produce a knockoff Keane painting herself.
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