Friday, February 19, 2010

Art Collection: Big-Eyed Deformed Ballerina

Ballerina, Eden, offset lithography on paper mounted to cardboard. Click for extravagantly, perhaps pointlessly larger.

Most of the second-tier big-eyed artists (the top tier is occupied only by Walter and Margaret Keane) used semi-pseudonymous single names: Gig, Goji, Lee, etc. Above is the work of Eden, and judging from the number of old Eden prints I've come across in the thrift stores over the years, he/she was both prolific and popular. His/her work adorned the walls of thousands and thousands of pre-teen girls all across the United States in (I'm guessing) the mid-1960s to the early-1970s. His hallmarks are smeary backgrounds, repetitive full-bodied poses and an often peculiar take on human anatomy.

By the way, you can learn more, sort of (information on these artists is practically nonexistent) about a lot of the artists I'll be sharing with you at Besmirched. Megan has valiantly tried to research these artists, and for a while was attempting to publish a book on them, a brave endeavor which has yet to produce results. From my own experience in the field, I'm guessing that the difficulty in researching these artists makes it hard to publish their work; they are so-called orphaned copyrights. Isn't it appropriate that the rights surrounding these works, which so often depict adorably poverty-stricken orphans, should themselves become orphans? Awww.

Look into their eyes. It will make everything better.

8 comments:

samael7 said...

Oh, "prolific." I thought you said "horrific" at first. Sorry. For a moment, it reminded me of those, yes, horrifying, retouched child-pageant pictures, which you've commented on in the past. *shudder*

My Aunt had a small collection of paintings in this style as well (not by Eden, by one of those other artists). They supposedly reminded her of me and my sister. I'd occasionally stare at them, trying to (force myself to) see a resemblance when I'd visit her house in Miami.

Then Hurricane Andrew hit and sadly destroyed much of her belongings, including those pictures. It was a real blow for her decor.

Peteykins said...

Right, the appeal is to younger girls and older women. That's true more-or-less across the board for big-eyed art.

drew in sf said...

Peter, I love you (even more!) for getting into this topic. Like other oddities that I admired in my childhood (e.g., the sci-fi sitcom Quark) I have been trying to find online resources for this stuff over the past 10 years or so, and I am so glad you are bringing it.

I don't care if other people want to enjoy this stuff ironically, I am enjoying it nostalgically. A lot of the white-trashy people I grew up around displayed these big-eyed portraits in their living rooms completely unironically. I was bewildered by their lameness as a young boy, which is a memory I enjoy revisiting.

A friend of my father was a self-employed mechanic who had the best sad-eyed puppy painting hanging in his garage next to the nudie calendars and old hubcaps. I wish I had a photo of that painting, it's such a strong memory.

Thanks again. My big sad eyes are tearing up in genuine appreciation of my youthful relationship with this genre of kitsch!

Peteykins said...

Sad, big-eyed puppies coming up!

Karen Zipdrive said...

The sad eyed, gimpy ballerina should be called "Eileen."

dguzman said...

All my childhood friends had these creepy big-eyed kid prints! I was horrified then, and I'm still horrified. Also tops on my creep-out list are harlequins. This painting has both! Eek!

drew in sf said...

@Karen - And her last name is Dover?

Kit said...

I saw this painting today in the "Garment District" store in Cambridge, MA. It brought back pleasant memories of childhood because we had this painting and it always seemed to me that her arm disappeared into a hole inside her body. I never found it creepy ... just curious. It's funny, now, after having done ballet as an adult ... why is her hair not in a bun? hehe I think we also had the harlequin girl with a lute. With a name like Eden, it's hard finding things with Google given most are Garden of Eden. I'm happy to have found your site, and will ask my mother what became of our copies of this print.

I'm also reminded of the velvety posters we bought in the 70s. You could get one of Elvis, and I had one of Star Trek.

As for the sci-fi sitcom Quark, I was able to get a copy off of eBay. Again, more fond memories of childhood.