The Artist of Light and the Darkness that Follows

Disclaimer:  If you are a Kinkade fan you will not like this post so stop reading now – LOL!

I have mentioned Dr. Miller in previous posts, but if you are new to my blog I will introduce Dr. Miller to you.  Dr. Miller was my Modern Art Professor at Armstrong Atlantic State University and was an amazing woman.  She died suddenly in 2005; my daughter is named in honor of her.  I learned more in her one class than I had in 4 years at SCAD.  She spoke with such passion and such grace for art, any kind of art expect Thomas Kinkade.  Being that the holiday season is right around the corner I thought I would enlighten people on Dr. Miller’s view of Thomas Kinkade (I know she would have loved this!).  I looked everywhere for the actual 60 Minutes episode that Dr. Miller showed our class, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it, but I did find the transcript.  Granted it does not convey the arrogance Kinkade shows in the interview but it does get the point across.

Stillwater Cottage
Stillwater Cottage by Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade (couldn’t find the title)

One of Dr. Miller’s biggest beefs with Kinkade was that he does not paint his own “original” paintings.  They were all pretty much the same design just the over paint is different (see above examples).  She described it as his “underlings” doing his bidding.  This drove her crazy.  He does not paint his “original” paintings but he sells them as originals, which Dr. Miller considered fraudulent and immoral.  He prints them on a high quality canvas and then either he or an underling paints them with a brush and it is considered an original oil painting.  She did give credit where credit was due, i.e. mass producing artwork and telling the world you painted it.  Kinkade is a “cottage industry” and has made a ton of money (but still can’t afford a designated driver – June 2010 DUI arrest), exploiting people’s faith.  Using faith in art is nothing new but Kinkade took it to a new level by mass producing cheap, inspirational artwork and passing it off as his own original work, when his brush never even touched the canvas.  Dr. Miller was ever so passionate about Kinkade exploiting people’s faith, as she put it, preying on the masses with cheap, cheesy, cookie cutter artwork. 

Everyone gets inspired from somewhere, and I have no doubt Kinkade has inspired and brought joy to millions of people, but he has cheapened the process for the local artist.  Think about it — an 18″x24″ (I so pulled that size out of thin air) oil painting from a local artist can go anywhere from $300-$5,000, depending on the artist.  The following comes from the Thomas Kinkade Gallery:

Thomas Kinkade originals are some of the most sought after art pieces in the world. Valued at between $10,000 and $250,000 these rare pieces are often unpublished works by Thomas Kinkade. Our gallery is proud to house several Original Oils on Canvas Board. Kinkade originals are becoming more and more difficult to acquire as Thom has begun holding onto all of his originals in bomb-proof vaults.
I don’t know about you but there is no way in HELL I would ever pay that for a painting.  An original Christo doesn’t even go for that and you can even get an original Warhol cheaper than that AND HE IS DEAD!  I don’t know about you but I would much rather pay the local “starving artist” as opposed to someone who cheapens the artistic process and preys on people’s faith.  Kinkade is everywhere, in every store (and many homes).  I have no doubt that he is a good artist, but his process has cheapened his art.  He doesn’t care about the painting he is mass producing, he just sees dollar signs every time he touches a canvas.  When art is no longer a creative process and you think more about your bottom line than the artwork itself, it is time to take a break and not push crap onto everyone.  Kinkade has had a rough 2010 from filing for bankruptcy, being accused of fraud, and a DUI.  Maybe this dark period will turn the painter of light into the painter of darkness for a while.
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