I don’t know why but it has been well over a month since Thomas Kinkade has passed and in a delayed reaction I am just now thinking about the “artist of light.” Perusing the recent articles I have been able to learn a great many things about Kinkade. In spite of the tasteless attacks against a dead person the one thing that I found strange is the consistent use of the term “Kitch” to describe Kinkades work. Once again, Kinkades personal life aside, the man has passed and his critics find this to be an opportune time to attack him. Who does that? Exhibit A from the Huffington Post one commenter has written:
“May his work forever be found above ugly sofas worldwide. My condolences to his family. I consider his work to the the Starbucks of art. Overpriced, overhyped, everywhere and leaving a bad taste in the mouth. If anything could best represent the senseless consumerism of the past 20 years, it was the work of Thomas Kinkade. Rockwell captured with great eloquence very human moments, emotions, and a time that will never come again. Disney was one of the greatest pioneers of animation and entertainment. Kinkade should never be compared to them. Well marketed mediocrity should never be celebrated.”
I am not a Kinkade fan. However, I do represent the one out of 20 homes that owns a Kinkade. I have had it for over 16 years and I don’t know where it is. However, to take the stance that his work is kitch and “should never be celebrated” is the height of arrogance.
I understand how one in the art industry can take offense to kitch. After all its appeal to the masses of those unqualified to be an art aficionado is offensive in itself. But when you intentionally set out to replicate true forms capturing moments in life as they are so that you might bring happiness to the casual observer, that’s when you’ve gone to far. Only a rake would pander to the common folks selling thoughtless, expressionless, unoriginal cliches, and try to pass them off as art. But here is something to consider. At what point does the search for originality become conformance to the strange and esoteric. Or are we to out do the other in an attempt to be more avant-garde than thou?
The misquote above from the commenter in the Huffington Post was not Kinkade attempting to compare himself artistically with Rockwell or Disney. Rather, he was talking about what he has in common, which was his desire to bring happiness. So if your a critic don’t hate on the man’s success. He simply provided what most of us want in art, something beautiful to look at. If we want to be confounded by the strange or esoteric we’ll pick up some Derrida.