July 28, 2006

Thomas Kinkade: The Wanna-Be Rant

I started writing a rant last night but something went terribly wrong.

I put Thomas Kinkade on my "eHat" list a few months ago (that's "hate" for those of you who don't habla Pig Latin). Usually, once something is put on this list, I can emotionally move on. But Thomas wouldn't go away. I just couldn't stand this artist with his mass produced kitschy feel-good art, Disney-esque branding and ridiculous, random product line (umbrellas, mugs, nightlights, teapots, throws, you name it, they spew it). It was an ad I found last week for the Thomas Kinkade Bible that really pushed me over the edge.

My rant was going pretty well and I started looking around on the internet for people with similar disdain for this guy. I found plenty and read what their grievances were. Then something strange started to happen. The more people raved against him, the more pity I had for our little Tommy. After 15 minutes, I was actually starting to silently defend him against these attacks. By midnight, I no longer eHated Kinkade at all and just felt like the guy was a genius to do anything other than take advantage of the wallets of the millions of fluffy Americans who think he's the next best thing to microwaveable Mac N Cheese. It was a true Grinch moment when my heart grew three sizes in only day, all because of Tommy K.

Before you go calling me soft, let me explain this unexpected paradigm shift. Kinkade is criticized for mass producing his art and using unskilled artists to paint selected portions of these reproductions to make them look authentic. Does this sound like anyone else in art history? Andy Warhol did essentially the same thing with his mass produced Tomato Soup cans and Marilyn Monroes. Art critics threw a fit back then too. But in time they immortalized him as a revolutionary of artistic production. I'm not comparing Kinkade's actual art to Warhol's, just their methods. They were both just businessmen trying to make enough dough to look spiffy on Saturday nights.

Other beef people have with Kinkade is that although he champions himself as "the painter of light" meaning that his work is inspired by Christian ideals, he has a less than exemplary character himself. One internet raver was disgusted by Tom's confession that he peed in an elevator in Las Vegas. Tommy also drunkenly heckled Siegfried & Roy at their Las Vegas show. Okay, so he's no angel. But whatever happened to "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?" That's one rule that I definitely believe in. It's has to apply to everybody or nobody. Besides, I always like a guy who isn't above public humiliation. People like that just make the rest of us look good. We should thank him for being a slovenly drunk.

Another one of my major huffs was that an autopen signs his reproductions and Kinkade's DNA, extracted from his hair, is in the ink. As to be expected, I was indignant. How ridiculous to think that just because a piece of reproduced art has your DNA on it that it's worth any more than a high quality photocopy? What I didn't know was that soon after he instituted this practice, many other art publishers began offering DNA authentication services to their artists and it's been wildly popular with artists and collectors alike. Everyone love authenticity. Consider the poor, perfect cubic zirconium. It's major fault is that it is too perfect and people will instead pay thousands of dollars for a "real" diamond that has faults up the wazoo. All in in the name of authenticity. Spike and I did. I now realize that if Kinkade can make an extra $1000 just by doing it, he'd be a fool not to. It's the masses that are idiots, not him. He's just taking advantage of a community who has the "real diamond" mentality. They're begging to throw away their money on a lousy DNA encoded auto-signature.

Thomas, you're my man. If I could get away with what you were doing I would in an instant. Rob 'em blind with your photocopies and DNA trickery. They'll thank you for it and beg for more.

9 comments:

~j. said...

All I know about him is that I've heard he's a piggish biggot towards his wife, which makes me hate him and his art and his DNA. He looks like a snake.

AzĂșcar said...

Wait...let's not forget that his "art" is the worst kind of manipulative tripe. It's for people who hate to be challenged, who want to feel safe and fuzzy when they look at "art." They want to disregard all art since 1850--even the impressionists. They don't understand expressionism, cubism, the Blue period, the Rose period, Guernica, and what's worse is they don't want to understand it.

He's serving the God of Maman above all others while doing his best to appear a devout Christian. Oh yeah, and like ~j said, he treats wife as totally crap (so he's out.)

Bethany said...

I have to go along the lines of azucar. I dont know anything about him personally, but I hate the fact that he offers the "bubble gum" paintings. There is nothing there but a pretty picture completely devoid of a real subject matter. What is wrong with him! I like to compare him to the Michael Mcclains of the music world. Yuck

Annie said...

Sarah, I'm sorry to see you have been blinded by the light! Just Kidding, I loved the post although you can't convince me there's anything cool about this man's business practices.

Sarah said...

Let me just clarify - I don't like this guys art - I abhor it. But if millions of Americans are encouraging him, it's society's fault, not his. If people were dumb enough to pay me millions to draw smiley faces all day long, I'd be the fool not to do it. His art stinks, he's just taking advantage of stupid art consumers.

The Editor said...

My Dears! All your art training and cultural experience, and you are spending time thinking about this creature? Move on to Bob, the Happy Painter, at least!

And, oh, dear Azucar, if you judge artists by the way their treat their women, write Picasso off the list, please. But yet the King of Misogynists ranks right up there with the giants in art history, and deservedly so, though I consider him a moral goat.

angela said...

Who gets to say what art is anyway? The thing (well, one thing) I don't like about TK paintings is the ugly decorations that usually accompany them...in "groupings". A sweetly painted shelf holding a vase of silk flowers with a candle sconce on the other side. Ick! But, there are people out there who think my obsession with IKEA is a mockery of good design. I don't normally have such a strong attitude of "to each his own" but in decorating, it most definitely applies! At least in my book...

Anonymous said...

Icky-uh!

ambarwarrior said...

Ha ha ha!! I won't let my mom read this post. She loves Thomas KinKade. I have to pretend to be impressed whenever we go to the Thomas Kinkade Store. (I hope she won't read this!! ha ha ha!)