Thomas Kinkade died in early April at age 54.
You may know his work? 'Sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes in dewy morning light that were beloved by many but criticized by the art establishment.’
Reviled by the art establishment, a kitschster without rival, mall-art....
I don’t like Kinkade’s work- at all. However, I almost didn’t like it before I had even seen a single image due to classroom joke’s and derogatory references.( I also didn’t understand the references to Bob Ross either ). I would usually snort and nod in agreement and then write the name down so that I could look the person up that night on the internet. I hate the idea of disliking someone and their work intensely without, in Aussie terminology, giving them a fair go. Like a good critique.
So I looked him up on the internet....He was practically a local, born and raised in
The sketch book helped him land him a job creating background art for the animated film, ‘Fire and Ice' by by Ralph Bakshi and and Frank Frazetta. Bakshi wrote ‘Thomas Kinkade was for me at his very young age already a brilliant painter…. I gave him the job of painting backgrounds for my movie. He nailed it, which really was impossible for anyone else with no experience – but not for him.’
|Kinkade left, Gurney right|
Paul Chadwick, an old roommate from the
Art Centre College also
wrote recently “His frontier scenes, in the manner of John Stobart and
his Bierstadt influenced Yosemite paintings, were great. Anybody repelled
by his shining, cute cottages should reserve final judgment until they’ve seen
these…the guy could paint....”.
I can’t find images of these paintings. However, he did paint under the ‘brush’ name of Robert Girrard (1984- 1989) for awhile, in order to to experiment with impressionism.
|Robert Girrard piece|
|early self portrait|
|early work called 'Two Cats'|
In the 1980s Kinkade became a born-again Christian. The change coincided with a shift in his career path- he moved his focus to retail, not on the traditional gallery system. He sold his work through a franchise of galleries, cable television home shopping networks, and eventually online. He made no apologies for commercializing the art.
Apparently a Kinkade picture hangs in one out of 20 American homes. His images are reproduced in books, on posters, canvas prints, hand-signed lithographs, collector’s plates, postcards, calendars, coffee mugs, puzzles, snoglobes, home furnishings and, the pièce de résistance, a gated community in
Sales for his works and associated products were reported to have reached $100 million annually.
Perhaps the most succinct summation I have found was from the Daily Beast- 'He captures, with chilling accuracy, a strangely American combination of blinkered nostalgia, blind complacency, and a ferocious resistance to change. And then he packages and sells that vision within a no-holds-barred consumerist culture that you wouldn’t think compatible with pictures of commerce-free townships twinkling by snow light.'
In the past couple of years Kinkade has had dubious business dealings, galleries have declared bankruptcy and people have gone unpaid.
Knowing more does not change the fact that I find his work insipid....I do wonder though, if I hit upon a 'winning formula' would I pursue it so formidably?