Thomas Kinkade and me

Thomas Kinkade died last weekend. I was on vacation, so I learned of it days later. Here are some articles that I found helpful in understanding Kinkade:

  • http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/thomas-kinkade-art-loved-fans-dismissed-art-world-elite-article-1.1058281
  • http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/us-artist-thomas-kinkade-dies-at-age-54/article2394888/
  • http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/russell-smith/in-memoriam-thomas-kinkade-and-how-is-he-different-from-damien-hirst/article2398862/

I have mixed feeling about Kinkade and his work. I was first introduced to his art 20 years ago. My uncle gave me a tear-off calendar featuring his work. This was back before the internet, when it was hard to learn about people. The blurb on the calendar called him “the painter of light.” He claimed to be a Christian. Implied in that statement is this:

  • his art is inspired by faith
  • his motives are forthright

I really liked the art, and kept the pages as I tore them off. I kept them for years.

When Kinkade Galleries began to appear, I was rooting for the guy. I thought the galleries would mostly sell prints, so they only needed a small inventory of actual paintings. I assumed that he was an industrious Protestant who beavered away, knocking off copies of his paintings to fill those galleries. I was wrong.

What I eventually learned is that Kinkade used his purported Christianity to gain people’s trust, selling them Kinkade Gallery franchises (which mostly lost money), and paintings that were knocked off by minimum-wage art students.

So, for the last decade, I’ve written Kinkade off as yet-another-fallen-hero. I still like his art. I just can’t get behind the man, or line his pocket with any money. For me (but obviously not for his family), his death is not untimely at all. His story ended. Two or three more decades would not make it better.

Rest in peace, Thomas Kinkade. I will continue to secretly enjoy your art.

 

 

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