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Apr 09 2012

Am I too late?

The death of an artist is supposed to increase the value of their work…should I be investing in Thomas Kinkade?

I think his work will endure forever.

79 comments

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  1. 1
    AJ Milne

    To say I love #9 in the ‘best of the Something Awful submissions’ slideshow is far, far short of saying enough.

    (/I do not merely love. I am obsessed. I may have to seek out a print suitable for hanging.)

  2. 2
    donovanbaker

    I just can’t support Kinkade in life or death. People supported him with their own money building stores all across the country just to sell his paintings and earn a living. So what does he do to say thank them? He starts selling his paintings on home shopping networks at cheaper pricing than the stores were aloud to sell them at. They lost their businesses after making him famous and popular. I just can’t support that.

  3. 3
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Won’t endure very long in this medium.

  4. 4
    paul

    That collection does not contain the Kinkade parody most appropriate to Pharygula:

    http://sciencenotes.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/chthulu-thomas-kinkade-lighthouse.jpg

  5. 5
    BrianX

    It is my belief that the perfect product for people who want art they can use as wallpaper is… wallpaper.

  6. 6
    Zeno

    The premature death of Thomas Kinkade is a personal and family tragedy. I presume his loved ones are bereft and mourning. The art world, however, will little note nor long remember someone whose talent for exploiting plebeian tastes exceeded his artistic vision. But then again, someone had to produce the kitsch that my parents love so much. I could never decide whether Kinkade was seriously tasteless or just that cynically exploitative.

    I shook my head and laughed when I discovered that Joan Didion had exactly the same take on Kinkade as I do: his cottages look like victims of in-progress arson:

    A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.

  7. 7
    Ing

    Thsi is the man who to show his disgust at Disney PEED on a statue of Winnie the Pooh.

    A character named Pooh…and he peed on it. Artistically bankrupt.

  8. 8
    A. R

    Oh, how I hated that man. He was a terrible artist who commercialized his work, and a fundie.

  9. 9
    Ing

    I could never decide whether Kinkade was seriously tasteless or just that cynically exploitative.

    The later

  10. 10
    AJ Milne

    I could never decide whether Kinkade was seriously tasteless or just that cynically exploitative…

    Seems to me he could easily have been both…

    Tho’ I s’pose there is one way to tell: did he have any of his own pieces hanging in his place?

    (/Also, if you gave Kinkade a Kinkade for his birthday, would he cross you off the guest list for next year?)

  11. 11
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    In the second link, I pretty much like the one with the DeLorean.

    The unaltered ones look like… Dolores Umbridge’s office. Or paintings of clowns.

    *Shudder*

  12. 12
    eddyline

    None of the artists whom I’ve met liked his work.

    I personally thought it was, as another mentioned elsewhere, far too idyllic. That parody with the clown looking in the window pretty much sums it up—very Stephen King’ish, á la “The Stand”.

  13. 13
    Glen Davidson

    And the sap stops flowing in the spring…

    Condolences to friends and family, to be sure.

    Glen Davidson

  14. 14
    peterh

    You mention “artist,” and then bring up Kinkade. His stuff is just a tad better than Elvis on velvet.

  15. 15
    BrianX

    Peterh:

    That’s an insult to velvet Elvis painters. Nobody’s pretending a velvet Elvis is anything but decorative. Kinkade had pretensions.

  16. 16
    Q.E.D

    He sold so much of that crap that it will probably have the same value as “collectible” beany babies after the craze ended.

  17. 17
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    That parody with the clown looking in the window pretty much sums it up—very Stephen King’ish, á la “The Stand”.

    For the clown, that would be Stephen King’s “It”.

  18. 18
    Hayden

    I don’t get it. I’ve never heard of this guy. Why do people hate his art so much

    I looked at the gallery linked from the article (not the parodies), and they look like… paintings. What am I missing?

  19. 19
    BrianX

    Hayden:

    Two reasons:

    1. He’s a technically proficient artist who put his skills to work painting wallpaper, and cheezy wallpaper at that, but sold it as “real” art. I think he was the artistic equivalent of a Budweiser snob — it seems he sold to people who found other art unapproachable and therefore considered it “bad” art.
    2. He was a scam artist who undercut his franchisers and drove a lot of them out of business.

  20. 20
    Rip Steakface

    Those parodies are awesome, so I guess there was a small benefit to the world after all by his existence.

  21. 21
    Anthony K

    He was a scam artist who undercut his franchisers and drove a lot of them out of business.

    All the while touting his religiosity. Buy and support my art because I’m a good Christian.

    This article in Vanity Fair details his approach to art.

    Having said that, I’m not one given to sentimentality over death, but 54 is much too young.

  22. 22
    craigore

    Endor has gotta be my favorite. I’m putting it on my wall as we speak, along with possibly back to the future, the nazghul, and sky king “what’re you doing??”. Oh yes, they will live forever…

  23. 23
    'Tis Himself

    Kinkade ran his studio as a factory. He trained artists on how to produce “genuine Kinkade paintings”. These artists made many of the “original” paintings sold at his franchises.

  24. 24
    BrianX

    ‘Tis:

    It’s even worse than that — most of those paintings, if you look very close, are actually halftone prints, no different from a poster. All the artists did was apply oil paint highlights here and there.

  25. 25
    twincats

    Peterh:
    That’s an insult to velvet Elvis painters. Nobody’s pretending a velvet Elvis is anything but decorative. Kinkade had pretensions.

    Gotta agree. Compared to Kinkade’s schlock, anything on velvet should be in the Louvre – be it Elvises, bullfighters, or clowns. While we’re at it, let’s include anything sold at the side of the road, in a furniture store, or at a huge sale in a warehouse as well.

    He sold so much of that crap that it will probably have the same value as “collectible” beany babies after the craze ended.

    This is QFT.

    Brian X – Reason #3, He actually trademarked the phrase “Painter of Light.” This always annoyed the crap out of me for some reason.

  26. 26
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Count me in as another voice defending velvet paintings. They’re so terrible, they’re good. Like the type of B-movie sent up by MST3K. How can you not marvel at something like Jesus, Lord of the Truckers?

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Art Vandelay

    A few weeks ago my mom sends me this email (because she’ll never understand how uninspiring this shit is to me) title “THOMAS KINCADE’S DAUGHTER.”

    Out of the mouths of babies…

    I will think of this revelation every time I turn on my windshiel d wipers.

    I hope the rain shows in the picture! It’s awesome if it does! The message is awesome, too. You must forward the email to save the picture !

    One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my daughter,Aspen, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. “Dad, I’m thinking of something.”

    This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some& nbsp; fact for a while, and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

    “What are you thinking?” I asked. “The rain,” she began, “is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away.”

    After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. “That’s really good, Aspen.”

    Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked.. “Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?” Aspen didn’t hesitate one moment with her answer: “We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us.”

    I will always remember this whenever I turn my& nbsp; wipers on.

    Isn’t it distressing to know that when you forward this message you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them. Funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.

    In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain!

    For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:1

    So basically dude is either a liar or he’s proud of the fact that he’s taught his 6 year old daughter to be completely void of anything resembling moral accountability.

  29. 29
    Aquaria

    I hate the bastard’s “work”, if one can call it that. The guy had zero grasp of reality for his paintings, and, if he was trying to do surreal, he confused it with horror. He had a painting in McAllen, of a cable car on Hyde Street in San Francisco. Of course he had the flaming windows and put everyone in turn of the century attire his moronic yesterday was so wonderful drivel, but the Sausalito hills are too far away for where the water is, Alcatraz is skewed, etc. etc. etc. His perspective was crap–utter crap. And the colors were creepy.

  30. 30
    Cosmic Snark

    The LOTR horsemen and Endor made me LOL, gotta admit.

  31. 31
    Aquaria

    Wasn’t Kinkade the guy who liked to piss on stuff, too?

    I seem to remember reading that he did that.

    Where’s Fuck This, I’m Getting Tacos? I know he’s an artist, and probably has lots to say about Kinkdead.

  32. 32
    Cosmic Snark

    From the Vanity Fair article Brownian linked to:

    “Putting Thomas Kinkade in an art-historical context is like trying to put Jack Chick in the context of the illustrated comic strip”

    Zing!

  33. 33
    shoeguy

    The

    The local ME is doing an autopsy, so we don’t know what will be the cause of death, but I’m guessing it will have the words “cocaine” “transvestite hookers (three or more), “auto-erotic” and “kiddy porn” in their report. He dedicated his life to “Art”. Art denied any association and threatened to sue.

  34. 34
    Aquaria

    Tis:

    A lot of people make fun of ol’ Bob for his hippy dippy Zen quality, but I consider him an above-average painting instructor, at least for what he does. While he may not teach you to be Van Gogh, he’s not trying to. He’s teaching Painting for Dummies, so of course it’s simplistic. I give him credit for teaching some basic techniques, very well.

  35. 35
    doktorzoom

    My favorite of the parodies, which I think says it all.

    The two threads at Something Awful, from which the Salon post is drawn, are worth checking out

  36. 36
    golkarian

    I’m not an artist, so I don’t know how difficult it is. I think it’s impressive (to a non-artist), but repetitive and the style puts people off (hence the entertaining parodies). That’s saying nothing about the man himself.

  37. 37
    eddyline

    For the clown, that would be Stephen King’s “It”.

    Thanks, kemist, for the correction.

    It’s been a while since I read it…

  38. 38
    Ing

    Part of the problem is that there’s something…off…with the appearance and colors. It’s like an uncanny valley. Like some horrific vestige of a human that moves just SLIGHTLY off, it’s pallor either too pale or too blush, it’s eyes not quite blinking in synch, to make it clear that its’ something horrible and wrong posing as something wholesome and chaste.

  39. 39
    seditiosus

    Speaking as someone who likes everything from Da Vinci to Dada, Kinkade’s output makes me nauseous. But then, I’m currently spending my spare time making sacrilegious sculpture out of bible pages and eyeballs, so I guess I’m probably not his target audience.

  40. 40
    peterh

    How was I to know the world holds goop on velvet in such high regard? I’m just a lowly retiree who admires Andrew Wyeth, M. C. Escher and Georgia O’Keefe.

  41. 41
    Ing

    That said I wouldn’t mind Kinkades work at all (after all it is clearly filling a niche and lots of people fall into over sentimental glurge) if it wasn’t for the business practices

  42. 42
    'Tis Himself

    Aquaria,

    I agree with you on Bob Ross. He was a good art instructor. He wasn’t teaching Rembrandt, he was teaching Aunt Sue. Here’s a timelapse of Ol’ Bob making a servicable landscape.

  43. 43
    No One

    I’m sure some Ferengi will make a small fortune.

  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
    No One

    Carravagio:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6E6mVkeGV4U/TyBckoiGKYI/AAAAAAAABOQ/itY-AyNQEb8/s1600/caravaggio_stpaul.jpg

    Sorry for the “link rant” folks, but that’s what I needed to clear my retinas from the crap that was Kincade. To bad he didn’t live long enough to repent…

  48. 48
    Travis

    I think Makoto Shinkai is more a master of light than Kincade, and his work actually makes me feel something.

    http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/3484/5cmperseondwootagain6mv.png

    http://cbf45w.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pNaXfL2FxIv3BHvJCFB6mYOqovWHJ8h34BW4_Z00wpGMoEQB2iT7VBYpHKN-JBZV130Z61Iy87Tdnsb6iALFPdg

  49. 49
    madscientist

    I’d say way too late; he was an artist who was actually very popular during his life. It’s also not clear how much his work would fetch in the art market – so many of those pretentious gits say he’s No True Artist (and most of the same people praise Jackson Pollock, an artist who never produced a single work which I even remotely enjoyed).

  50. 50
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I can’t get the slide show to play but this is my favourite Kinkade mashup: Kinkade-Cthulhu.

  51. 51
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    His work always reminded me of Romance novels with a lonely castle on the cover, with one window lit.

  52. 52
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I see a lot of visual clichés. His work reminds me of Snow White’s cottage or illustrations in a very twee children’s book. It’s so cosy and sweet I’m getting an overdose of sugar. It doesn’t seem to be for adults.

    The Impressionists were painters–nay, masters–of light.

  53. 53
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    See the top illustration on this page: sweet!

  54. 54
    shoeguy

    Kinkade created the “Peeps” of the art world.

  55. 55
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Ugh, Vanity Fair called him a “Norman Rockwell”! This was Norman Rockwell.

    I prefer James Gurney, who illustrated Dinotopia.

  56. 56
    Travis

    Markita Lynda,
    I see that James Gurney worked with Kinkade on Fire and Ice and they wrote a book together, The Artist’s Guide to Sketching.

  57. 57
    Ing

    @Fire and Ice

    Dear god what a shitty movie. Well drawn, but unbelievably boring and plodding.

  58. 58
    Travis

    Actually, I just found this article when looking up his work on Fire and Ice. This argument is made in it:

    Kinkade painted the brilliant landscapes of the religious right, the Tea Party and all the other Rush Limbaughs in America. He’s selling back what Americans want. This is the most homespun vision of the distorted right and nostalgia-looking Americans reaching for purity without knowing what it really is — all through his landscapes.

    IT’S BRILLIANT, and goes by every art critic and major museum in the world. I love it. And it’s just that that [which] I made my movies about — the blind, pretentious and ugly.

    I really do not buy this.

  59. 59
    Ing

    @Travis

    Yeah that argument only works if you ignore his Affinity Fraud.

    I mean yeah maybe he looked down upon his fans as saps and suckers and even if it is the Tea Party assholes or that that’s still a shitty artistic legacy to leave.

  60. 60
    Menyambal

    Joseph Mallord William Turner was the original “painter of light”, and was no sissy about it. One of his paintings, “Regulus”, was from the point of view of a Roman who had been tied to a post, had his eyelids cut off, and was watching the sun come up over Carthage.

    Kinkade was painting gingerbread houses.

  61. 61
    machintelligence

    Tastes vary. His work appealed to my (then) teenage daughter. At least it cannot be said of him “My 4 year old could do as well”.

  62. 62
    Rip Steakface

    I can see why Kinkade’s work is incredibly saccharine and trite, but I really have no idea what makes good art. It’s not quite as obvious as other forms of media. Video games are fun, popular music is typically qualified based on either catchiness or innovation (on one side, you have pop music, and on the other, you have jazz), movies and literature are engaging, entertaining or thought-provoking… so on.

    I just don’t know what to get out of visual art. As a musician, I know what to get out of it – an emotional reaction. But as someone with zero talent in visual arts, it just goes over my head.

  63. 63
    Zeppelin

    @Rip Steakface

    What you’re supposed to “get” out of visual art is really basically the same as in any art form — sensual enjoyment, or intellectual pleasure at spotting complex encoded concepts and relationships, or visceral emotional impact…

    All of those things require that the artist honestly engage with their own work as well as the viewer.
    Kinkade cynically painted lowest-common-denominator kitsch.
    If he’d done it sincerely and unironically, he’d just have been an unoriginal, simple-minded hack. But he knew that he wasn’t producing anything of worth. There was no message, and no artistic intent beyond making money. That’s why it’s Bad Art.

    His art is the visual equivalent of an autotuned pop song whose lyrics consist to 90% of the word “baby”, except worse because those are usually sold at reasonable prices. It’s just aesthetically and intellectually bankrupt.

  64. 64
    ibyea

    I don’t get what is so horrible about those paintings. I know the guy is a douchebag and all. And I get his stuff is not exactly mindblowing. For me they are just whatever. But they don’t look terrible to me.

  65. 65
    ibyea

    @zeppelin
    Thanks for answering my question, even if you didn’t mean to. I didn’t refresh the page before posting it. ^_^

  66. 66
    Rip Steakface

    His art is the visual equivalent of an autotuned pop song whose lyrics consist to 90% of the word “baby”, except worse because those are usually sold at reasonable prices. It’s just aesthetically and intellectually bankrupt.

    Good work choosing a comparison I can comprehend :P.

    I understood what made Kinkade Bad – he was saccharine and trite, and like you said, produced lowest common denominator kitsch. In heavy metal terms, he sold out, man. As for what visual art is intended to provoke? I guess I can understand what it’s intending to provoke, but not how.

    For me, music just makes more sense because you can tell just by hearing it, whether you have any musical ability or not, if a given melody or song or riff is enjoyable.

    If I start playing some tasty, bluesy minor pentatonic stuff, a lot of people will think “dude, that sounds awesome”(a good chunk though will think it’s boring because they’ve heard songs use minor pentatonic ideas a hundred thousand times before, even if they don’t recognize it as such).

    Your comparison of purely dance oriented autotuned crap chanting “baby” repeatedly is almost less like Kinkade, who at least had some technical ability (he can paint an image better than I can) and more like children’s drawings – easily digestible, not indicative of any deeper meaning, and quickly and cheaply made.

  67. 67
    Crissa

    Hey, no one mentioned this part…
    http://www.burbed.com/2012/04/08/lights-out-for-los-gatos-painter-thomas-kinkade/

    First off, he was involved in several land-scams in the last few years which seemed to go bottoms up; and secondly the only emergency call in the town he died in was one for an alcohol poisoning of a man the same age and address as he owns…

    I know you guys are all about the poking at him being a clown, but he was also apparently a con artist as well.

  68. 68
    Cosmic Snark

    I’m sure some Ferengi will make a small fortune.

    By selling Kinkade’s leftover paintings, or by selling his diced and dessicated remains to fundie Xians?

  69. 69
    julietdefarge

    I always thought of him as the painter of Global Warming, with bougainvillea and other tropical plants blooming in mad fecundity in the Cotswolds. The mutant humanoids of that rapidly approaching age will, of course, light their homes with lumps of glowing radioactive waste.

  70. 70
    David Marjanović

    He dedicated his life to “Art”. Art denied any association and threatened to sue.

    ROTFL!

  71. 71
    Anthony K

    I know you guys are all about the poking at him being a clown, but he was also apparently a con artist as well.

    I’m poking at him for being a con artist. He sure wasn’t the painting kind of artist.

  72. 72
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    My opus is stuck… testing.

  73. 73
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    If we are talking kitch, I’ll have to bring up Tretchikoff, who was lapped up in Apartheid era South Africa.

    He made a fortune off his art. He spent a fascinating life, at times among the oppressed (he fled from Russia and was jailed by the Japanese) and amongst the oppressors (“president for life” Sukharno and settling in segregated Cape Town). This strange duality comes out in his art.

    Eg: Lost Orchid , Two Roses in Blue, Weeping Rose

    His work struck a major cord with white South Africans. (He is probably best known internationally for Blue Lady.)

  74. 74
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Tretchikoff painted a lot of portraits of South Africans off the streets. His Melon Boy will carry impact with Merkins, though for different reasons than it would in South Africa.

    Kinkade died in Los Gatos. Mmmh. I wonder if the USAian Phontes there ever ran into him?

  75. 75
    twincats

    I just don’t know what to get out of visual art. As a musician, I know what to get out of it – an emotional reaction. But as someone with zero talent in visual arts, it just goes over my head.

    I think that’s entirely okay. I’m just the opposite; I know what I like in music, but can go days or weeks without listening to the radio or Pandora. But as an art major who has taken at least four art history courses and written papers and essays for all of them, I still can’t quite say why Kinkaid’s work makes me feel so stabby, although I can agree with Zeppelin’s take. I’m still probably closer to Aquaria on this, though.

    But then again, my favorite kind of art is largely but not exclusively non-representational (abstract expressionism.)

  76. 76
    imnotandrei

    I still can’t quite say why Kinkaid’s work makes me feel so stabby,

    I’m a self-taught visual artist. And I can tell you *exactly* why his work (and his lifestyle, and his followers) make me stabby.

    He didn’t claim to be “just an artist” — nor did his followers. They elevated him onto a pedestal, and held up what he did as what Art Should Do.

    And what did he do with that art? Provide people not even with emotional wallpaper — but emotional insulation.

    I had a discussion once in which an in-law said she liked Kinkade’s work because he was “uplifting”. I showed her this picture (Anselm Kiefer’s Book with Wings) and said “That, to me, is uplifting. It’s challenging you, and if you study it, you’ll learn something. What you’re calling “uplifting” isn’t; it’s reassuring, it’s comforting, it’s softening the world to make you feel better. But that’s all it is.”

    Needless to say, this did not make me the most popular. ;)

    But Kinkade challenged neither himself nor his audience; there is nothing there that was not expected. *That* is what makes me stabby about him, and it’s the celebration of that fact in his audience that makes me stabby about them.

  77. 77
    ironflange

    Here’s a little tribute I did to Thomas, “The Garden of Prayer:”

    http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/576477_10150904408739918_741869917_12859062_244127544_n.jpg

  78. 78
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Is the criticism of his shitty perspective the reason why his paintings look all leaning and deformed to me? Especially buildings and such. It is so weird and it makes my head hurt.

  79. 79
    leel

    I have to be grateful to Kincaide for one thing – the shops that sprang up to sell his dreck also sold prints by better artists. I’m not calling it Art, but I’m fond of Bev Doolittle’s work:

    http://www.bnr-art.com/doolitt/

    My personal preference is for art with competent execution and a good sense of design, pictures that make me smile, think, puzzle, look closer and discover things (even if they are ‘only’ deliberate and cheesy tricks). Though there is definitely sentimentality and cuteness in her work, many of her nature paintings seem to me both beautiful and sad.

    http://www.bnr-art.com/doolitt/wilderness.htm
    http://www.bnr-art.com/doolitt/2indianhourse.htm

    Alas, you will need larger and more finely detailed images to see what I’m on about.

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