Big Eyes: The Style of Margaret Keane

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11684

"But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!" said Little Red Riding Hood. That was bad news, but the paintings of Ms. Keane are endearing because of those big eyes. Learn how style speaks out in art!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you ever look at a piece of handwriting and say to yourself, “I know exactly who wrote that”?
  • How did you know?

There are some artists whose work you see and you just know automatically who made it.

Advanced art critics — people who study art for a living — can look at a work of art and tell you in just a few seconds where it came from, the period in which it was produced, and even sometimes who produced it.

They don't have secret powers any more than you or I. They look at many features of a painting or other work, like the materials used to produce it, the artist's signature, and the style of painting.

This last feature, style, is the set of characteristics that come up in an artist's work again and again. For some artists, their style is so distinctive, so unique, that you know instantly that a work belongs to them.

One such artist is Margaret Keane. Keane is not only an accomplished pop artist, but she has also, like many artists, lived a fascinating and sometimes troubled life.

Read this biography about Margaret Keane and write down information and ideas to answer the following questions.

  • What features are Keane's works most known for?
  • What hardships did Keane have to face and overcome in order to rise to success?
  • What does the story of Margaret Keane show about the challenges women faced in the art world of the 1950s, and maybe in our own day?

After finding those answers, consider these questions.

  • What do you think is the relationship between an artist's biography and his or her art?
  • Do you need to know something about an artist's life in order to understand his or her art? Why or why not?

Comparing one artist's work with another can help us grasp their unique style features.

In the next section, you will compare and contrast Margaret Keane's portrait painting alongside the portraits of one of the most well-known artists of all time, Rembrandt.

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