I have been reading lots of harsh comments and criticism about the art of the late Thomas Kinkade, debasing his paintings. Some of these remarks were cruel and hateful, both questioning the authority of Thomas Kinkade as an artist and questioning the sanity of anyone who would buy his paintings or reproductions.
According to his website, Thomas Kinkade is the biggest selling artist of all time, selling more than any artist dead or alive. His paintings can be seen on prints, mugs, nightlights, little trinkets, and much more.
He is known for being just as much a business man as an artist (is that a bad thing?) He has also been harshly criticised by the art world establishment, especially for his commercialism.
I recently read a post on ArtBusiness.com by Alan Bamberger entitled Art, Artists, Bigotry, Hate… and the Passing of Thomas Kinkade. He has really let his opinion become known about what he thinks of people lashing out on Thomas Kinkade’s artwork since his demise.
Being owner of a site such as Artpromotivate which features visual artists of all backgrounds and tastes, it certainly would not pay to be judgemental of a particular artists work. What artists create is up to them, whether they want to create the same picture a zillion times over, or make millions from one painting. Who am I to judge one artist over another – or to make up my own definition of what I think is true art?
What is it about Thomas Kinkade’s paintings that so many people like and made him so popular?
In answering this question, I browsed through some of the comments at a few forums and will give a few common points.
- His art is comforting
There are millions who have found joy looking at Thomas Kinkade’s paintings. Lets face it, most people aren’t likely to buy an artwork if they are not in some way comforted by it. Many who have experienced struggles in life want to be surrounded by positive things which cheer them up. Thomas Kinkade’s work did that for many people.
- Has a personal connection
Most people seem to be reminded of the place they grew up or a place they would like to be.
He painted scenes that were very idealized, and what people wanted things to be like. He was a perfectionist, making his scenes full of highlights, color, and detail.
- Family safe
By this I mean his art had themes that were ok for the whole family, and most people wouldn’t mind hanging in their living-room.
The reality is that when the common person wants to buy a painting, they buy it because it comforts them and they see something in the piece they can identify with. Thomas Kinkade touched on both these aspects.
I believe that this is what the vast majority want. My parents and most people I know around here would rather buy a Thomas Kinkade painting than my own. Should I be jealous? Should I lash out at my family and friends and question their taste? Should I change my own artwork to suit them? Certainly not! I am not a judgemental person and I do understand WHY they like it. It’s not about the name by the way (well, partly).
I know many who are not even familiar with art, or even want to understand it. They work all day at labour intensive jobs, come home after a long days work, rest, and prepare for the next day of work. They usually relax in front of a TV watching their favourite television shows, or on their computer.
When leaving work, most people want to forget about the workplace. They find comfort in pass-times that make them forget about their workplace and relax their mind. They want their homes to feel like homes. They surround their households with photographs of loved ones, personal mementos, and artwork that they have a personal connection to, and which comforts them. I know this because most people in this small town love Thomas Kinkade’s paintings and have them in their homes.
I could easily paint similar scenes myself to cater to the buying public (as a side project to my usual paintings), but I choose not to. The reason being, I fear I would become known for these – since more would be buying them. I do see some local artists doing just that and selling lots.
What do you think of the work of Thomas Kinkade? Why do you think people like it? Do you think all the controversy over his artwork is unfair or justified?