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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Thomas Kincade

Dear reader: You may wonder why this post is not in my Painting of the Month or My Heroes series. This article is merely my personal opinion (so he can't sue me. Anyway he should worry!). Intrigued? Read on.....
Candlelight Cottage, Thomas Kinkade
Firstly here are some definitions, from around the internet, of the word 'Kitsch', just to give you a flavour of where I am going with this:
  • Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but appreciated in an ironic way.
  • Kitsch is a form of art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value.
  • Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts.
  • Tawdry, vulgarized, or pretentious art, literature, etc., usually with popular or sentimental appeal
And my favourite:
  • Low art posing as high art.
If you are a collector or admirer of Thomas Kinkade you may have stopped reading by now, (about 1,000 people visit this blog every week). If you are still here, please read on.
It is not my intention to offend anyone!
I am not saying Kinkade lacks technical ability but that alone would make him suitable to be an illustrator - not an artist. Common elements of his pictures include:

  • Garish loud colours.
  • Buildings intensely lit from inside.
  • Sentimentality.
  • And never, ever, any people in his landscapes. 
His output is industrial, like that of Jeff Koons and, obviously very many people collect and admire his works.
Not me, I'm afraid.


Alicia said...

I knew I liked you! His stuff is simply nauseating. (No offense to any readers here who disagree with me.)

Austan said...

And I was worried you were a fan of his for a moment! Haha! I believe he's a cause of the diabetes epidemic.

David said...

Dear bazza,
I'm definitely with you on this one.
I suppose "kitsch" can apply to all areas of the arts, and I similarly dislike cloyingly sentimental films, books, etc. To me the best art always represents, not necessarily reality, but some form of truth (although I think Barthes said that literature has no "truth function"), whether this be emotional, psychological, political or social, and I don't think you could say that of Kincade.
Nice one, bazza, and brave too considering his many admirers. You never know, some irate Kincade fan may turn up in your comments section, blasting your controversial opinions!
Very Best Wishes,

bazza said...

Alicia: I must say that I was a bit hesitant about posting this which I have had on file for a week or two.
Your agreement helps to convince me that I did the right thing. Thank you!

bazza said...

Austan: Yes, it's like being force-fed Stevia. Thanks for your support (although I am perfectly happy for someone to come to his defence).

bazza said...

David: Yes and I think E H Gombrich said something similar. I would really look forward to crossing (friendly) swords with any of his fans. But I doubt they would show up at this blog!

Anonymous said...

The rather tasteful Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Actually Bazza old chap I think it's rather pretty - but then you have already dubbed me a Phillipino ....or was that a Philistine?
Cheers old boy.

bazza said...

Philistine, Sir Tom, Philistine. It's not a compliment.
Thank you for your contribution. Don't call us we'll call you.

dcrelief said...

Admittedly I almost gag when I view Kinkade's work. I'll spare the gripe session.
One, Joseph Mallor William Turner, of London, England - (1775-1851) was originally attributed the title, "Painter of Light". Turner did not self-promote as that title, but was bestowed it from his peers and the greater art community. He's awesome!
Nice appraisal, Bazza.
Dizza (if I may...)

bazza said...

Hi Dixie: Turner along with Cezanne are my two favourite painters. The thing is that Turner would have been entitled to self-promote because he was a real and great artist who inspired the early impressionists.
My posts are not usually of a negative nature but it is the ridiculously high profile of Thomas Kinkade that repulses me!

joanne said...

this is, again though, what I love about art... art has arms that are wide open ... and is inclusive ... what appeals to one may not appeal to another... and it has a great deal to teach us about ourselves...

I actually haven't given much thought or attention to Thomas Kinkade's art... The interesting thing about your review and the commenters comments is that Kinkade has managed with his art to invoke some strong emotions and opinions here... so, he has unwittingly accomplished something quite remarkable with his art, even in this group... to inspire such strenuous responses?.. Could any artist, writer, musician or otherwise ever hope for more than that? He has touched something inside of you, no? Maybe not what he intended, but that isn't really for the artist to know or to decide about... It is only his job to deliver the art...

bazza said...

joanne: You obviously have a generous heart but it is not the very existence of Kincade's art that I dislike - each to his own etc - but it's the cynical and ruthless exploitation and marketing that, personally, I find objectionable.
Art that provokes is, as you say, to be applauded. However, it needs to have other redeeming features as well.
David, above, has put his finger on the nub of this debate by pointing out the need for some kind of truth in all art.
Thank you for your bravery in putting a case for the other side!

joanne said...

well, I have to admit to not having awareness concerning the business aspect of his art, other than a great deal of exposure and marketing for him... so, that makes me wonder...Is this a review of his artwork, or more of a reaction to business principles? Do you think that something of an artist's art changes when monetary success and widespread popularity occur? I wonder what Thomas Kinkade's early works or sketchbooks look like... Do you think artists sometimes succumb to what is expected rather than creating what is in their heart? I think the reason I haven't given that much attention to his art before is that it doesn't really stir anything in me, but that's just me... But i can see how that could be very different for someone else... It gets me to thinking because I know of a few folk artists who I suppose make kitschy art who have realized quite a nice level of success in the business of their art... But what I've noticed is a change in the art... While initially it may have been stirring, at a minimum stirring of sentimentality, it seems that over time the art now lacks even that and has consequently become a bit lifeless,, as if to make it successfully in the niche of the art world, one has to conform to what is expected of a contract rather than be true to their art?.. If true, that makes me sad for the art...the value in art for me is what it stirs in me, what it makes me feel and think and it opens my mind and heart in ways I hadn't experienced before, or maybe ways I have but have forgotten about.

Anyway... Thank you for getting me thinking!

THE SNEE said...

Hi Bazza,

This is a blog deviation for you, but it's fun to get into the discussion

Similar to Joanne, I don't pay much attention to Thomas Kinkade which might explain why he is off my radar. I admire his drafting skills, I like the colors on face value, but I'm not at all interested in looking at his work! Fascinating, that his work doesn't appeal to me when I'm such a fairy tale/fantasy kind of gal. He sure is successful though, isn't he! What in the end defines art? Food for thought Bazza, food for thought.

bazza said...

joanne: When you ask "is this a review of his artwork, or more of a reaction to business principles?" you have made me think!
I have to say it is both but I think my main idea is the notion of "Low art posing as high art".
There is a huge debate to be had about 'what defines art'. Until a few hundred years ago art and craft were synonymous but art is now usually though of as "an act of expressing feelings, thoughts, and observations".
I don't agree with the notion that a work is 'art' if it's creator says it is!

bazza said...

Snee: This is turning into a very interesting debate and you are right in that it's a departure for me.
I think there is some some great fantasy art. Are you familiar with Richard Dadd's 19th century work 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke'?
Mind you, he was mad, literally!

joanne said...

interesting discussion!

so, it makes me wonder... who decides what is art?

bazza said...

joanne: That question is at the epicentre of this discussion. I'm afraid I don't know the answer!
Perhaps it's best if we each make our own choices.

joanne said...

read this morning of Thomas Kinkade's sudden death... seemed such ironic timing given the swirl of discussion we all had here so recently...

bazza said...

joanne: Oh my goodness, I hope it's not divine intervention. I read that he was only 54. I am sorry for his family but it doesn't alter my opinion.