Blythe’s unique look was envisioned by the toy designer and Arts Institute of Chicago alumna, Allison Katzman’s early 1970s creations while working as a toy designer for Marvin Glass and Associates. Allison passed away recently at the age of 95 at her home in Seattle. Her dolls were ahead of their time, being not so appealing as children’s toys while they have so easily become artistic dolls for adult collectors. Blythe Dolls today have a truly global following and the movement is inherently connected to the worlds of fashion, art and film.
It also seems there’s an earlier influence in the look of Blythe that comes from the American painter Margaret Keane, whose paintings rose to popularity in the 1960s, even receiving praise from Andy Warhol himself.
Keane’s, “Big Eyes” paintings feature forlorn children with oversized eyes and are set in a spooky style that approaches kitsch and bleak children’s version of Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic, depicting the Great Depression expression of austere and sterile Midwestern homesteaders, staring grimly back at the viewer.
Originally from Nashville, Margaret for a period became of one the most recognized artists in America, or rather her paintings did. She was for years terrorized and manipulated by her narcissistic husband, who took all the credit for her amazing paintings.
In 2014, Tim Burton of Edward Scissorhands fame and the director who has worked in so many productions with famed Blythe Doll fan, celebrities, directed an award-winning film about Margaret Keane, called “Big Eyes”.
The story, following her ordeal being cruelly exploited by her charlatan husband, Walter, before a moment of epiphany was she finally rebelled by exposing the truth that she had in fact painted all of his works. This led to a famous show trial in Hawaii where the judge ordered a “paint off” in court to see who was the real artist. While it was quickly apparent her husband couldn’t paint, Margaret was exonerated and then was finally able to move on with her life in freedom.
Today, Margaret Keane is 92 and lives in California. She has inspired many other artists including Steven Spielberg and of course Allison Katzman. Yet it is not just Keane’s hypnotic pieces, but it is her victory over one of the art world’s biggest frauds and the terrible trauma she endured, which stands as an inspiration in itself.
The linked legacies of Margaret Keane and the late Allison Katzman will never be forgotten. Their imagination thrives through Blythe! Blythe Dolls are embedded in the world of art and creativity. Blythes are muses to millions and collectors continue to garner four-figure sums for their creations. We can see where their inspiration comes from and at This Is Blythe, we will continue to animate generations of creatives and designers to come. Visit our most popular Blythes and adopt your Blythe now!
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Suggested read: Blythe Meaning – What Does Blythe or Blyth Mean?
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About the author
Meet Jenna Anderson, the charming Customer Service Enchantress and Blythe doll aficionado at This Is Blythe. With her passion for all things Blythe and exceptional communication skills, Jenna guides customers to their perfect dolls while crafting enchanting blog posts that captivate the Blythe community. Known fondly as the "Blythe Whisperer," her dedication, expertise, and love for Blythe dolls make her an invaluable team member. Outside of work, Jenna's creativity extends to miniature doll accessories, photography, and arts and crafts, inspiring those around her. Read more about Jenna's captivating journey in the world of Blythe dolls here.