I Loved Kinkade

joan warburton joan warburton 3149 posts

… and I make no apologies for it. He was one of my favorites.
He will be missed

H Maria Perry H Maria Perry 4327 posts

That is unexpected news. He made a lot of money over the years. .He made a LOT of money by rather questionable means. I wonder if his paintings will increase in value now?

joan warburton joan warburton 3149 posts

He was only 54 and it was “natural causes”. I was wondering about that.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

I read an interesting observation, I think it was in his obituary in the newspaper USA Today. It said he was “reviled by the art world” because his goal was not to express himself, but rather, as he put it, to “make people happy”. His brother said that one of his great idols was Walt Disney, because Disney “made people happy”.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting observation by the obit writer that putting “making people happy” ahead of “expressing yourself” can get you reviled in the art world.

David Crowell David Crowell 9 posts

I’m not entirely sure why Kinkade was reviled. Some of it may well have been simple jealousy, he made buckets of money and others did not. He did paint very much to the market, not to high artistic ideals.

His paintings made a lot of people very happy and he will be missed.

H Maria Perry H Maria Perry 4327 posts

Kinkade’s art is rejected as having any artistic historical significance because of a number of factors. He painted in the romantic realism style that is like a cartoon-version of the Hudson River school of American painters popular in the 19th century. Kinkade’s art has a static message, every piece is an invitation to escape reality into a mythical landscape where everything is lovely, serene and devoid conflict and tension. I studied for a brief time under the artist Russell May who painted in a similar style. Mr. May once said of his landscapes that he wanted to present the world as it was before “man” spoiled it. Many of Mr. May’s paintings present buildings and other structures in “harmony” with nature. Kinkade’s paintings also depict idyllic scenes that lack tension and depict structures and people in complete harmony with the surrounding landscape. Kinkade’s paintings, like those of Russell May, are quaint and romantically unrealistic.

I describe Kinkade’s paintings as hotel art – the kind we used to see in the motels and hotels across middle America decades ago. In a word, Kinkade’s paintings are kitsch.

That’s my critique, for what it’s worth.

TaliaShines TaliaShines 69 posts

Yes – very kitschy-I agree. He and Trisha Romance must have come from the same art school.

Lori Peters Lori Peters 3142 posts

A lot of people liked his art and that is more than most of us can say. He sold his art and that is more than most of us can say. Art is subjective and there will always be a love/hate relationship between Kinkaid and the artworld. I was surprised at his death at age 54.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

@Helen. Some very thoughtful points. Follow-up question: Why do you suppose that Grandma Moses is so highly respected in the art world today? Granted, Moses was indisputably an authentic member of the American primitive tradition in which she painted, as opposed to Kinkade arguably being an imitator of the Hudson River school. But just like Kinkade, Moses also specialized in idealized scenes devoid of tension, in which people are in complete harmony with landscape.

H Maria Perry H Maria Perry 4327 posts

Hi Doug. I disagree with your comparison of Kinkade and Grandma Moses. Moses’s work is dynamic and energetic. Moses painted some images that could be considered quaint but the large body of her art is genuine and original. For example, in the painting below is filled with activity and energy. The people are busy with the chores of the harvest, and each character in the painting tells his or her own story yet are part of the whole message of the business and hard work of rural life. She has been compared to Pieter Bruegel but I think her style is less refined and more genuine than Bruegel. Grandma Moses is often categorized as primitive art, but I think it is best described as naive art which includes works like that of Henri Rousseau’s The Repast of the Lion and Kristin Nelson’s Mother May I? There is energy and tension in much of Grandma Moses’ art, but also an honesty that is lacking in Kinkade’s.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

I think you hit upon the answer in your last sentence. The art world looks down on Kinkade because Kinkade’s work lacks honesty. His paintings tend to appeal to those who would like the world to be something other than it is, a happier place. His paintings are, at their root, a form of fantasy, although directed at a different demographic than the usual fantasy art, with churches and steeples insetad of dungeons and dragons. As you know, I have been in “the church business” for quite a few years. I have yet to see an actual living, breathing church that would qualify for inclusion in the idyllic Thomas Kinkade pantheon of churches.

But, having written this, I then have to ask, isn’t fantasy a valid genre too? And if an artist executes the fantasy exceptionally well, as Kinade did, shouldn’t he be considered an exceptional artist?

H Maria Perry H Maria Perry 4327 posts

Kinkade was technically, quite skilled. If one defines fantasy art as pandering to an audience that longs for an America that never was as if it is a lost treasure, then yes his art is fantasy. I find Kinkade’s art less fantasy and more phony. Take for example his painting, Indy Excitement 2009 – note the American flags, the quaint early 20th century style hats on the boys in the crowd and the obvious absence of any people of color and women (I’m going to ignore the raised fist salutes scattered here and there in the crowd and give Kinkade the benefit of doubt). I’ve been to Indy and this is definitely a fantastical representation.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

Indy Excitement 2009 is a pretty good example of classic Kinkade. The artist’s own statement for this painting reads, “As I worked, I envisioned a crowd of cheering spectators from each of the generations that have embraced the track as an American icon. I even envisioned including famous cars from the golden age of racing in my painting.” In other words, intentional anachronism with cars and spectators from different eras in the same frame. This, together with Kinkade’s claim that Walt Disney was one of his key influencers, gives us a pretty good clue of what Kinkade was up to. He was intentionally creating his own Magic Kingdom for the viewing pleasure of his constituency. I think his fans are aware of this. I know quite a few Kinkade lovers, and I don’t think they mistake his scenes for reality.

Perhaps we shouldn’t even call his art Realism. Maybe instead we should call it Verisimilitude leading to a willing suspension of disbelief . These are literary terms not usually associated with the visual arts, and they basically refer to the fiction writer’s trick of making fiction believable by infusing it with highly realistic elements. I think it’s a pretty good description of Kinkade’s methodology.

H Maria Perry H Maria Perry 4327 posts

Ha! I hadn’t read the “artist’s statement” so it just goes to show that he was in fact and obviously pandering to a specific demographic. :-)

Cindy Schnackel Cindy Schnackel 4952 posts

Would’ve been interesting to see what he did with his skills, had he not just been painting to the market. Did he leave behind any actual personal work that differed from this? Sad that anyone dies, especially so relatively young, but his work was not my cup of tea. I also thought the mall shops promising the mass produced prints ‘would go up in value’ were lying to customers, long before the fraud and bankruptcy came about. Hopefully the customers bought his prints because they liked them, but I do know people who spent quite a bit on them because they believed they were also ‘investments.’ Then they found out they were not even worth what they paid. Any time I see someone selling prints as investments it’s a red flag.

joan warburton joan warburton 3149 posts

Would you consider Laura Ashley an artist? She epitomizes commercialism though I understand the discussion here is referring to Kinkade’s style or lack thereof.

I’ve seen Ashley’s original prints in exhibits in MoMA. Many of her patterns started as watercolors, oils, markers, crayons, etc.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

Laura Ashley the fashion designer? I love her stuff, and I’m not even a girl! Well, we all should have memorized by now the difference between applied art (has a utilitarian purpose – china, silverware, clothing patterns, etc) and fine art (no utilitarian purpose, just made to look at and appreciate). Definitely she’s an artist in the realm of applied art, and a darn good one.

Now if we start to ask is the applied artist as good / as important / etc as the fine artist, that’s a can of worms I don’t want to get into. Except I’ll say that in the co-op that I belong to, fine artist and applied artist are treated as equals with equal respect, and I personally like it that way.

joan warburton joan warburton 3149 posts

As many as 5% of the homes in US have something by Kinkade according to the statistics published the day after he died. Wonder what the percentage is for Laura Ashley? I agree with you on applied and fine artists.

Let’s talk Martha Stewart………….. LOL. Would you consider her “applied” art in the league with Laura Ashley?

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

Judging only from the Martha Stewart merchandise that I have personally seen, it’s pretty ordinary stuff, with not much to differentiate it except the Martha Stewart name and maybe the fact that the product lines are color coordinated (but that’s not “design”, it’s “trade dress”). In a lot of cases you can find the same products in Wal Mart without the Martha Stewart logo for half the price. Stewart’s primary background is as a corporate executive, not an artist. I think what Stewart sells is her personality on TV, and then she maximizes her income by putting her name on lines of run-of-the-mill merch usually made in China and with very little original design put into it by Stewart or her company.

joan warburton joan warburton 3149 posts

I asked around because I have some Martha Stewart material with a beautiful drawing of flowers and leaves and some other stuff with grapes and leaves. I was wondering who the artists were. Apparently these artists have turned over all rights to Martha Stewart, for very little monetary compensation, and she puts her tag on their work.

Cindy Schnackel Cindy Schnackel 4952 posts

Hard to say how, or where, any of these brands get their art. But I have seen ‘contests’ by famous brands where artists submit designs and have to give up all rights in the entry terms, even if they don’t win the contest/prize. They lure artists in with the promise of exposure, but are just getting free art. Sometimes even charging artists to enter. And, some co’s just steal designs, e.g., the site You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice I think the site looked more active in the past, but someone posted it in a forum again the other day and it’s very interesting. I would hope that artists are fairly compensated for design work, but it doesn’t always happen. For those that design what the market wants and understand licensing I hear it’s a decent income.

Dan Perez Dan Perez 2186 posts

I never quite understood the strong feelings against Kinkaid. Hotel/Motel art is the prefect description of what he did. persoanlly, I don’t like it at all. However, I don’t see why he would be so hated for creating it. We all create what we want and if someone is more interested in craeting art that makes people happy when they hang it over their sofa and makes the artist unbeliveable amounts of money, so what? We don’t need to like it and we don’t need to hate the person who craeted it.

Personally, I’ve never felt it was my place to tell someone how to express themselves. There is happy puppies, kittens and children art on RB that makes me cringe, but I don’t hate the artist (ok, I may poke fun at the subject matter, but I don’t bitch out the artists for making money on it).
I think some people were just jealous that Kinkaid found a simple and easy way to make money and he never apologized for selling out commercially in his art.

Amy-Elyse Neer Amy-Elyse Neer 419 posts

Speaking as someone who expresses her happy in her painting, I think that it boils down to the question of was he expressing HIS happy? or was he painting a happy he did feel, as far as emotional authenticity went.

To read of some of his non painterly issues and pursuits and business dealings, I think it’s highly likely he did not have a native satisfaction within himself to express.

I do not think art has to only show the maudlin, the dark, the underbelly. But I do think it has to show the genuine. If you are not a happy person and you try to paint fluffy happy fairy world, it will ring false. It would be exactly the same if I tried to get dark and emo and angsty… I just don’t feel that way most of the time. Sure weird things make me happy and some of my subject matter may not seem as beautiful to you as it does to me, but that’s where the skill of painting comes in, to show you why I think it’s beautiful and what about it made me happy.

The honest truth is, he was technically proficient, he identified a style that would sell, and, he made a lot of money doing it . If those things bother you then you may be jealous.

However, personally, I feel he was a bit of a hypocrite in that he had a public face and an artistic style that clearly were not in step with each other, he ripped off a lot of people and was sued successfully for bilking his gallery owners, he sold his talent as a god given “Painter of Light” apparently unaware that anyone could buy a tube of shiva brilliant yellow light (he should have been thanking shiva and later richeson for saving the formula when shiva stopped making it), and there are questions about some of his works being mass produced by other artists in assembly lines and sold as his work, and he had an established practice of printing to canvas and adding a few stokes and charging ludicrous sums for it. I am not even going to get into his drunken escapades, I’m sure we heard more of them here than made the national and international news (I live one town over from where he lived).

These are the things about him that bothered me. As for the sales he made and the popularity his works obtained, I don’t see anything wrong with that at all, I want people to want to buy my works, I want people to feel good when they look at something I painted, but I’d prefer that in my art and my business dealings I accomplish my goals with honesty. And I do not think he did.