Of all the months we've looked at so far, the August image in the Thomas Kinkade 2012 calendar may be the most quintessentially Kinkadian. The lighthouse. The cottage. The trademark glow. This one should have been effortless to critique. But when I started typing out notes, I realized that I was done with critiquing his work. No more Kinkade analysis! Could I possibly say anything new about a man who basically painted the same thing hundreds of times? The mere thought of the task started to bring on a headache. Since it's summer, I decided that it was time to have some fun with him for a change. It was [...]
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” wrote Robert Frost, famously. Could he have been thinking of the yellow wood of “The Aspen Chapel,” featured as the April image in the Thomas Kinkade 2012 calendar? Clearly we have two paths—the familiar unpaved country road on the right-hand side and the sweetly babbling brook on the left. But why two paths, from a painter who has previously perfected and fetishized the depiction of the single charming path? Is there a man vs. nature duality theme here? Is there meaning to the fact that, pictorially speaking, the road gets abruptly cut off by the right end of the frame, while the [...]
“Formulaic.” “Schlocky.” “Tremendously successful.” These are some of the epithets that are routinely directed toward painter Thomas Kinkade by the cultural elitists in the current art and media establishments. But has anybody really taken a deep look at Kinkade’s work? You can dismiss his work as cheesy sentimentalism, but hey—can you name any other fine artist who has so thoroughly dominated the intellectual territory between Lids and Things Remembered? I didn’t think so. In an effort to plumb the complexities of Kinkade's work, each month I'll be discussing a page from his 2012 “Painter of Light” calendar. Let’s start with January, the month that Kinkade—slyly—has chosen to lead off [...]
"I have something in common with Norman Rockwell," Thomas Kinkade once reflected. "I like to make people happy." Right, and that's also why Krispy Kreme makes sugary donuts and why Joe Francis makes "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs. Regardless, nobody would argue too much against the fact that Kinkade, the fine art painter, is considered in the same "American populist" category as Rockwell, the magazine illustrator. However, Rockwell also confessed that "I am a story teller." And this is where the similarities abruptly end between Rockwell and the man who so badly wanted to be mentioned in the same breath as his idol.
The July page in [...]
March’s image is titled “A Peaceful Time.” And indeed it is a peaceful time for you, because you are not the unfortunate owner of this cottage. Take a look at it. While there's certainly much to recommend it as a residence—the picturesque location, the flowers so lush you could eat them—this level of immaculate rusticity is surely financially ruinous to maintain. When a stone wall requires repair, the owner cannot simply summon a mason, but must instead ask the Historical Society to appoint an art restorer. The savings that would ordinarily go toward the kids' college fund instead must go to updating the plumbing. I count one, two, three, four, [...]
Well, this is awkward. But before we start, let me say: R.I.P. Thomas Kinkade, who died last month. While all of the circumstances surrounding his later life and sudden death may never be fully known to the public, it's clear that he was carrying some demons in addition to his talent and ambition. It's also clear that his painting had become an effective way to mask those demons. Thomas Kinkade the Message was supposed to be the proxy for Thomas Kinkade the Man, but Thomas Kinkade the Marketer overruled them both. But while he's gone, his monthly calendar is still a thing, and so, yes, this column is still [...]
This month's painting is all about journeys.