Friday, April 6, 2012

The Painter of Light Goes Dark

Posted by on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 10:24 PM

"Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light" and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54," reports the San Jose Mercury News. "His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States."


Comments (54) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
@41 Holy cripes! You are spending an awful lot of time on satire here.

There are a couple of Kincades within spitting distance of my cube at work and I noticed that he often depicts his cozy cottages dangerously close to raging seas or tumultuous rivers. Perhaps this is an allusion to some roiling internal conflict the suppression of which led to his alcoholism and early demise?
Posted by Rhizome on April 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM · Report this

Q: Who misses Bil Keane?
A: "Not Me"
Posted by capicola on April 10, 2012 at 3:24 AM · Report this
Knat 52
(X) Bil Keane
(X) Thomas Kinkade
( ) Jon McNaughton
( ) Jim Davis
Posted by Knat on April 8, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Never heard of him, but I am a Canadian, so perhaps that shit was stopped at the border with all the other obscene materials.
Posted by daveb604 on April 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Yoder 50
@45 Heaven, as conceived by Thomas Kinkade, is exactly where he deserves to go.
Posted by Yoder on April 7, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
The true "painter of light" is Vermeer.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: I've seen Vermeer, and you, Mr Kincaide, are no Vermeer.
Posted by Jared Bascomb on April 7, 2012 at 6:53 PM · Report this
Ha, ha, ha, @47! Poor Franklin Mint!
Posted by floater on April 7, 2012 at 5:32 PM · Report this
HellboundAlleee 47
I read that he was an insufferable asshole alcoholic who smashed up hotel rooms and peed on stuff.

But he made "Jesus Mountain" or whatever it's called, so we have to be nice to him.

Franklin Mint has lost a Titan
Posted by HellboundAlleee on April 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 46
I'm so glad to know I'll never hear from him again.

I suppose it's too bad that it took death to make that happen, but what else could have stopped the man? Realistically, his greed was never going to be sated. He had to die; it was the only way. It's good news and it only takes a smidge of courage to tell that truth.

All you "don't speak ill of the dead" fuckers need to nut up. His poltergeist is not going to come haunt your ass. His fucking paintings will, though.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on April 7, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
All kitsch artists go to heaven.
Posted by Proteus on April 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM · Report this
How can you call him an artist? He wasn't an angry, diseased, STD-ridden homosexual pickling his pieces in his own bodily fluids.
Posted by You can't call it art if it ain't got that schwing! on April 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Over at Joe My God, a commenter directed folks to a 2010 critique of Kincaid by wingnut Jesus freak Joe Carter.
What interests me is that Carter points out that Kincaid's earlier stuff had some artistic merit. His descent into utter schlockiness occurred later in his career.
Posted by Joe Glibmoron on April 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 42
Kinkade's apparent cosmetic surgery is as second-rate as his work. You'd think that an artist that rich could have afforded a better plastic surgeon. Instead, it's a study in mediocrity. It looks as if not too long before the potrait shown in the linked article was taken he went in and had the whole thing done at one time, which many people mistakenly do because it is cheaper. The picture in the Mercury News exhibits the faults of a "face-mill" practioner. The eyes have that surprised and stretched look of the too taut lift.. His eyebrows and forehead, Botox-free of movement. The linear pull of the "Lifetime Lift" draws his cheeks to his ears and finally, the whole has the shine and gleam of over-zealous derm-abrasion.Perhaps his doctor was a "surgeon of light". I am not against cosmetic surgery in the least. I just think that like art it should be performed with some underlying aesthetic genius.
Posted by thatsnotright on April 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM · Report this
JensR 41
@fnarf I disagree ... fine he did prints, like most american artists from your romantics and realist era ( I was replying to an earlier comment) and onward. Or those that never touched their own art at all (like a certain postmodernist with white hair).

But he did have something with both rokoko and the baroque because he followed in their path. You can argue that its not enough unless its a plain old jesus standing in the middle getting nailed to a cross but that would basicly just rip the map of art history apart since it would be excluding most of the classical baroque artists.

You can call it kitsch if you like - but essentially your doing exactly the same thing as post-rokoko artists did when calling rokoko artists "rokoko". Same with the baroque. "Malformed pearl"? That was not something nice. It was an insult.
So I consider him as being in the vein of baroque art but done in the style of rokoko - you could, perhaps call him a "late romantic" but that would miss out a few things:

1) He had, according to himself, a moral agenda with his images based on christian teaching which is the guidelines for art set down by the council of Trent, under supervision of the Jesuits that actually started the baroque. Of course one could argue that unlike the Baroque his images aren't made to establish wordly power aswell or point out the global spread of the catholic church but that is fine detail if anything.
2) His style is influensed by rokoko paintings. I can honestly not see how you can disagree with that. For example those velvet paintings of Elvis are often considered to be "in the vein of rokoko" part due to the imagery but mostly the choice of colour scale.

Kitsch is often art, presented, preserved or made to be kitsch. When the artist and the buyers and those that present it don't think its kitsch - its not. It COULD be if you buy it and present it with a glow-in-the-dark frame or something but Kitsch is (like for example north european realism) something self defined or not at all.

But it is interesting that you use the word as an insult - because that is just what rokoko and baroque where (and in a way still is).

I agree with many here, I probably wouldn't hang any of these on my walls (because they do look like shit) - but to pretend that this man is isolated from both inspiration and art history as a whole is ... well its just not true. Your making up things to fit your ideal if you claim that.

That he was a dick - fine, no disagreement, but if that is the quality with which we define art we are in deep shit. Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Zorn to name a few would be "dick art" and nothing else.

He is a part of your art history now - no matter how you feel about it.
He will have inspired countless of artists, no matter how you feel about it.
He was inspired by certain pieces of art which shows in how he desired his art to be, what he chose to do (or get done), how he wanted it to be seen by others, what he decided to do it with - no matter how you feel about it.
All these form what one could say about his artistry - whether his art was subjectively shit or not is besides the point (I think Michelangelo and Davinci's art is shit - it doesnt make them any way less relevant or in any way less "high reneissance south of the alps")
Posted by JensR on April 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 40
there will always be a supplier for middlebrow tastes.

my mom liked kincaid - as do my conservative catholic relatives. the images appealed to her sentimental vision of a country retreat, in some hazy american past before the 60's. even though she had a country retreat and knew better. the reality was a constant battle against bore bees, hornets, mice, snakes, invasive plants, and humidity.
Posted by Max Solomon on April 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Fnarf 39
Also, Jens, while your defense of the workshop system of Rembrandt et al. is spirited, that simply isn't how Kinkade operated. The comparison is risible. The men who worked in the Dutch workshops were themselves talented and distinguishable artists. There are no artists in Kinkade's empire.

You simply don't understand his production methods. There was no "workshop". The "paintings" were done by him, but what you typically buy in his stores are ink-jet prints on canvas, which are then, for an astronomical fee, dabbed at by his salesmen to add the white specks that were his trademark -- the "light" that he claimed to be the painter of. None of these dotters are artists, nor would they even claim to be. If the specks were applied by Kinkade himself, the price would be multiplied by ten.
Posted by Fnarf on April 7, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this
He may not have been the favorite painter of SLOGging hipsters, but his stuff is better than anything I've ever seen Jen Graves fawn over in the pages of the Stranger.
Posted by catsnbanjos on April 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Ernie1 37
I wonder if the fact that I have never heard of this guy before means I have good taste, or I'm clueless?
Posted by Ernie1 on April 7, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Fnarf 36
@14, rubbish.

Kinkade didn't have anything to do with the Baroque or Rococo or any classic art style. He was kitsch, more in keeping with Bob Ross than and Dutch classicist. Even Norman Rockwell had a style that was his own and a vision; Kinkade just had a tiny back of tricks. All of his paintings look exactly the same. And the only idea behind them is an utterly bogus nostalgia for a time that never was -- comforting but ignorant.

And what @24 said.

@29, your class argument might hold water if it wasn't possible to buy all sorts of art originals, or prints of expensive paintings, for far, FAR less than Kinkade's stuff sold for. You can even buy "Kinkade style" paintings that are just as good as his, if that's your thing, for much less than his. Kinkade was above all a ripoff artist taking advantage of the uneducated. Most of the people with his pictures on their walls have been fooled into thinking they were making an investment. More than a few put their retirements into them.

The closest analogue to Kinkade's empire is not any kind of artist at all but of Ty, makers of Beanie Babies.
Posted by Fnarf on April 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
I'll respect the fact that this is a person whose life has ended and he leaves friends and family behind, but man, I can't respect his art because it is bohhhhhhhhhh-ring. A bare wall looks better, and more interesting, than his paintings. There's nothing to them, just pretty, gauzy pictures of hobbit-land villages with moist streets and trails and lots of little lamps, all with a lot of little details. There's nothing striking or interesting about it. I'll go further - It's not even attractive, like a good landscape painting. Maybe that's because they portray a world or fantasy I wouldn't want to experience in real life. I wouldn't want to live in his world.

Thanks for the art history, Jens, but I just can't. He may be a (forgettable) part of our artistic heritage, but I can't appreciate his place in art enough to make his works interesting. Good example with The Swing, though. You're right. I do hate that frothy piece for the very same reason I hate Kincade's work.
Posted by floater on April 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
MichaelPgh 34
Proof that lack of talent can be fatal. Although his Cthulhu period was fun.
Posted by MichaelPgh on April 7, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 33
My guess is that the "natural causes" can be linked to excessive drinking.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 7, 2012 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 32
Didn't care for his stuff but the only comment I'll make is that I'm surprised he was so (relatively) young.
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on April 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 31
@14- The Swing is a lovely painting not because the technique is well executed but because of the subject. Kinkade's paintings may have good technique (debatable) but their subject matter is pure kitsch.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on April 7, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
Roma 30
28: Art is in the eyes of the beholder...

The paintings of Thomas Kinkade are not art.

This is art.
Posted by Roma on April 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
My Christian pro-same-sex marriage, gay-rights-advocate parents have a Kinkade print in their home, though in fairness to them they bought it before he really, really took off with the crap and the mall gallerias.

Thomas Kinkade was an artist for people who hate and don't understand modern art, which doesn't describe my parents though they do like the artwork in their home to be pictorial. I've attempted to convince them to sell it an buy something else, but they still like it even though they have long been disenchanted by the Kinkade media empire.

I don't like his paints. I think they are extremely compelling, but hating on people because they buy prints is [a] not very post-modern you fucks! Get down with the uncomfortable blur between production and reproduction. And [b] pretty fucking classist. What would you prefer people hang in their home when they can't afford expensive originals? Nothing? Framed movie posters also from the mall? Fuck off.
Posted by LukeJoe on April 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Report this
onthequest4peace 28
Gee, you folks are so full of love this Easter week. Art is in the eyes of the beholder and to millions he produced work that brought happiness and pleasure. Is that a crime against humanity deserving of so many offensive remarks? Art invites us to feel deeper and his scenes may not be the cutting edge you sophisticates like, but he brought pleasure to many and invited people to ponder beauty. I celebrate his life and his works.
Posted by onthequest4peace on April 7, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Dying on Good Friday, just like Jesus: well played, Kincaid. Ima call Mary and and see if she wants go sit by your tomb tomorrow morning and see what happens.

And @14 - Leave it to some goddamned foreigner to teach us all a lesson about our own art history. Thanks, Jens, that was cool.
Posted by Mason on April 7, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 26
I want one of those fuzzy warm cottages in the woods, all covered in flowering vines, with a creek real close so I can walk over my little stone bridge and smell roses. Is that so wrong?
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on April 7, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
Roma 25
From the Mercury News article: He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.

One of my favorite lines from Modern Family (from the Dude Ranch episode):

Mitchell: I don´t get boys. What is so great about destroying things?
Luke: It turns stuff into flying chunks of stuff.
Posted by Roma on April 7, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
mkyorai 24
Codpiece! Codpieeece!

Also, @21, he was an asshole who bilked investors in his galleries, sexually harassed his female employees, and urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh outside Disneyland while saying "this one's for you, Walt!." I'm not dancing on the man's grave, but he was no prize. (For the record, my source is the LA Times, article here:… )
Posted by mkyorai on April 7, 2012 at 7:43 AM · Report this
I guess tomorrow we'll know whether he was in fact Jesus.
Posted by giffy on April 7, 2012 at 7:43 AM · Report this
AmyC 22
@12 - balderdash said it right.
Posted by AmyC on April 7, 2012 at 7:41 AM · Report this
A man has died and you awful, awful people are practically dancing over it. His crime against humanity? He was responsible for art (not "art" you assholes) that you don't care for and that was commercially successful.
Posted by Mr. J on April 7, 2012 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 20
Among all the predictable 'he be with Jeebus now' comments on the SJ Mercury News page, the cause is revealed:

The Easter bunny did it, even he couldn't stand Kincaid's crap.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on April 7, 2012 at 5:16 AM · Report this
And my in laws have some kinkades in their McMansion in Ohio. Sure, they watch fox news, and yes I wouldn't want those paintings (or that cable news) in my house, but they like the paintings and they make a lot of sense for them.
Posted by David from Chicago on April 7, 2012 at 5:04 AM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 18
As if Disney or any other purveyor of mass culture is any better. As said above, sympathy for the family, but this lowbrow 'art' is so associated with Jeebus assholes, it just makes me ill.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on April 7, 2012 at 5:03 AM · Report this
@14 ftw. It's unexpected posts like this that make slog a good use of time on some days.
Posted by David from Chicago on April 7, 2012 at 4:58 AM · Report this
@15 - What is interesting is that you are incorrect about which kind of american specifically tends to own Kinkades - or at least incomplete. Granted I have not spent much time in the home of anyone who actually froths at the mouth with hatred of gays - I have been in the homes of born-again Christians and don't recall seeing many Kinkade paintings in them.

I have however seen MANY Kinkades in the homes of middle-class and upper-middle class liberals, especially but not exclusively middle-aged. Most surprisingly, I have seen Kinkades in more than one home of upper-middle-class urban gays.

It isn't really that hard to figure out why people like that stuff; I am not particularly into it myself, but it is not really a horrifying mystery of bad taste.
Posted by Thisbe on April 7, 2012 at 4:40 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 15
Jens, it's kind of embarassing to be reminded that the vast majority of Americans have absolutely no taste at all. And keep in mind that they're the same idiots who are the Jebus freaks, frothing at the mouth from their hatred of gays and voting for Republicans.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on April 7, 2012 at 4:19 AM · Report this
JensR 14
Wait wait wait - I'm not American but to be honest this man is a part of your artistic history and a living corner stone in your art history no matter what. From the early american romantics and realists like Thomas Cole and George Caleb Bingham a large piece of american arts reason for creation has been its availability to a broad public. George Caleb Bingham sold all his paintings to the American Art Union, a huge printing company that bought paintings for 7 dollars a piece and sold them onwards. Which may sound wierd from our modern view of the artist as a "lone genius" (which is about as constructed and nonrealistic as Kinkades paintings) but is just a more efficient version of the system that gave us the dutch masters during the Dutch Golden Days of the 1600eds (the Nightwatch would never have been made wherent it for the crass economical reasoning of the art market of the day)

Thomas Kinkade did just the same thing - he saw a market and he made sure to fill it. Also that he is a direct descendant from a baroque art style is even more fascinating (even though the colours and themes may seem to belong in rokoko with its pastelle colours, intimacy and often perceived lack of joy, but merely with a hint of joy just off the picture). He claimed to want to teach people life lessons with his paintings, that they contained moral lessons and religious themes to be inspired by. Which could just as well has been spoken as an order of "how art should be" at the council of Trent to the Jesuits.

Its commonality makes it trash since the commonality wasn't intended or used as a theme - the popularity makes it disliked because we are taught that art should be a code language (and the codes Kinkade used are baroque not Neoclassicist or Postmodern and so we kinda loose grip). The idea that the "workhouse method" makes it "not-art" is to also claim that Michelangelo and others of the great italian reneissance masters where "not-art" aswell since many of them used work houses.
The reasons why we dont like the style is the same reason why we dont like paintings like "the Swing" from the French Rokoko (which I can bet my left nut that all in here would go "wooooow" over if you knew the backstory and the rebellion involved). We are Neoclassicist - or in such a period and the trivialities of earlier eras are disliked. (just like the 70's being hated in the 80's but glorified in the 90's)

Its art. It may be shit to many of us, but its art. Further more it is a direct descendant to the great American Art History aswell as funnily enough a style connecting heavily to the baroque moralism.

Lets enjoy it basicly.
Posted by JensR on April 7, 2012 at 12:48 AM · Report this
I'm trying to get over the schlock.
Posted by midwaypete on April 6, 2012 at 11:58 PM · Report this
balderdash 12
I feel bad for his family, and I never celebrate death, but nothing of value was lost in terms of his career, which is, in fairness, the only interaction most of us will ever have with him. He was to painting what Jim Davis is to comics.
Posted by balderdash on April 6, 2012 at 11:35 PM · Report this
fixo 11
@10. Point taken!
Posted by fixo on April 6, 2012 at 11:24 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 10
@8- We're spending our Friday night on the internet, we have legitimate gripes.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on April 6, 2012 at 11:19 PM · Report this
You're next, Chihuly.
Posted by gloomy gus on April 6, 2012 at 11:09 PM · Report this
fixo 8
Bunch of really nice people, all of you.
Posted by fixo on April 6, 2012 at 11:03 PM · Report this
rob! 7
Maybe Christopher Martin Hoff told Jesus he could tutor Kinkade in various areas of human behavior?
Posted by rob! on April 6, 2012 at 11:02 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 6
I, for one, won't mourn his passing. I'm sad for his family, but his "art" was shit, and the whole culture that ate it up was sickening.

"His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States."

This isn't even remotely a true statement. A vast majority of his "paintings" were little more than glorified posters that were tarted up by his strip-mall staff with dabs of bright paint. Kinkade never touched a paintbrush to most of it. The most valuable part of any Kinkade "painting" is the frame. The collectors of his "art" are blind soulless idiots.

One might as well claim that that famous Farrah Fawcett poster was hanging in one of 20 homes in the US in 1985, and call it art.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 6, 2012 at 10:59 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 5
I somehow suspect that "The Painter of Light™" will continue to publish "previously unknown" work for at least as long as L. Ron Hubbard did.
Posted by Doctor Memory on April 6, 2012 at 10:58 PM · Report this
Of course not of originals. Post card images, Xmas day pictures, glowing light from afar pictures of Christian Hobbit homes and so bad in his attempt to be a Norman Rockwell for the deluded.
Posted by itchycoo park on April 6, 2012 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Zebes 3
As my roomie said: "And art everywhere suddenly breathes a sigh of relief."
Posted by Zebes on April 6, 2012 at 10:52 PM · Report this
Yeah, I'm sure those are all "his" paintings.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on April 6, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
He was one of the worst image makers. Every Christian I've ever know had so many of his slick visual homilies. I suspect somewhere there's a person sitting a room filled with so many of Kincade's smaltz they'd call it wall paper or tv for non-active brain buckets.
Posted by itchycoo park on April 6, 2012 at 10:46 PM · Report this

Add a comment