Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The death of Thomas Kinkade... on Good Friday

For a long time I did not get it.  The world seemed in love with the work of artist Thomas Kinkade.  It was happy art that painted a world not exactly as it was but as it might be -- some say should be.  I have never been much of a fan.  It is fairly predictable stuff and it has been so abundant as to be almost irritating to me.  But I admire the intention.  Art has become the domain of the shocking, rude, ugly, and insulting.  The moderns whom the critics seem to love show nothing but disdain for virtue and appeal to what is base rather than inspire nobility in the viewer.  They put together crap and find government, academia, benefactor, or museum to pay them for this crap that claims to be art.  It does nothing to make us feel better.  Its most usual response from the viewer is a wince, a quick look away, and steps to the next piece in the crap collection.

As I said, I am not much of an admirer of the Kinkade work but I do admire the artist.  He was a man of some skill who probably would have received most of the critical success that eluded him if he would have shocked us instead of giving us a glimpse of a better reality than the one we usually face.  His tidy little cottages and richly colored landscapes were often a diversion from the unkept side of this world and the landscapes marred by our abuse of God's gift.

I just have to admire an artist who inspires us to be better than we are instead of those who throw our faults, failings, weakness, excesses, and vulgarity right back at us, make us pay for the privilege of viewing it, and then mock our loss of hope and joy.  Kinkade made a boatload of money providing us with the better version of our reality but his efforts have been universally panned as little more than the starving artist, couch sized, sofa art you can pick up at the Holiday Inn this Saturday only for $19.95 (any size).  Maybe so.  But I tend to think our world would be a better place if there were more Thomas Kinkades and fewer Mapplethorpes and company.  But that is just me.  You come to your own conclusion.


Janis Williams said...

Fr. Peters,

There are far more artists who portray reality (even in it's awful side) who are unsung. The 'in' Art community consists of about 10,000 people worldwide who can either make or break an artists' fame. The talented remainder are consigned to likely anonymity.

There are currently a whole lot of talented people who could have moved to NYC out of college, and conformed to the demands of the 'in' art crowd. There are many more in school now. However, those who refused (and will refuse) the bait will work on in obscurity.

Mr. Kinkade was 'famous' in my opinion mainly for two reasons: the average American wouldn't know good Art if it ran over them, and Kinkade was a tireless marketer of himself.

Go onto any online Art site designed to teach or help you market your work, and you will find much about selling yourself rather than improving your art or teaching people what to appreciate.

I am not upset at anyone who likes Kinkade's work. It does however, show his talent for airbrushing reality (no pun intended). His desire was to portray life as everyone would like it to be. However, I have a strong suspicion that Eternity will look nothing like it.

My beef here is with the Church at large, who looks askance at Fine Art; especially the visual Arts. Video is a separate Art Form, Music a Form, and they are firmly ensconced in the Church (although much of what takes place in most churches...). The Fine Arts however, have been banished. Pictures ain't practical and may even border on idolatrous.

I know you are aware of all this, and I am not attacking in any way what you've posted. The readers need to know reality, though. Our people need to know and affirm the individual artistsin their parishes. They need to help and encourage, not shun them.

Anonymous said...

I have been really impressed by Pensacola Christian College's art department. They seem to have a great approach to visual arts.

Anonymous said...

Your all wrong. Get off it.

Anonymous said...

Who is to decide what is good art? Does someone with a God given talent have to go to art school to be reputable? Do only the schooled know art? Can people who buy and display paintings be the real art critics?

I much prefer Thomas Kinkades work than most other artist that I know dead or alive. His artwork gives a feeling of happiness, peace, tranquility, love, or home. I could have so many of his painting in most rooms of my home and be so totally content. I can sit for hours and look at his works and feel rested.

Thomas Kinkade was a top quality, very gifted artist. His gift was from God. Also, I am so thankful that he did make his prints at a more reasonable price so middle America could afford to have his works in their homes. Oh yea, he could have sat around and maybe sold 12 original paintings a year and been a starving artist, but God also gave him the idea of sharing his work with the world. I consider him one of the most unselfish painters in the world.

There will always be jealous & elite people who did not succeed in their work. So, maybe we all have something to learn from Thomas Kinkade. That is, if you have a gift that will make the world a better place, then share it. Only those people that love and appreciate it will buy it, so share your gift with the world like Thomas Kinkade did.

Anonymous said...

Gads! Even the dead can't rest on this blog! Requiescat in pace, Thomas Kinkade.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to agree with all of the comments on this topic so far. Since one should not hide one's talent under a bushel, and all who have been blessed with a talent should share it, then Thomas Kinkade has certainly fulfilled those two ideals. I like Kinkade's works. They are beautiful, in my eyes. Who determines what is good art and what is not? There is such a vast array in the fine arts (music, art, dance, etc) that there should be "something for everyone," in that we might not like the same thing, but there is something each of us likes. What is "good" should be that which makes us happy, or causes us to think, or makes some impression on us. It is an individual thing, and I guess I don't care what critics think. I do not believe that God has asked me to determine what is good or bad in the arts, but I do believe he gave us talents to share with each other, and I will not sit in judgment of someone else's talent--I will just enjoy it, and thank them for sharing.