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Aaron Shetland

I had never thought of Kinkade's work in that context before, but now it seems amazingly obvious. You've given me a lot to think about.

Jeff Curto

Remember the classic movie "Some Like it Hot"? Tony Curtiss, pretending to be a wealthy oil tycoon, is trying to seduce Marilyn Monroe by claiming that no woman's kiss ever moved him to passion. Marilyn pours on the steam, but Tony never wilts.

So it was with me and Kinkade's work... "nothing." (said with a Curtiss-esqe accent)

I always evaluated Kinkade's work with the same set of criteria I apply to all other forms of creative expression. That is, I decide whether it moves me to think of new things or new ideas.. whether I'm reminded of some past experience of my own or inspired to think of some new experience I've yet to have.

And... with Kinkade, I got none of that. Ever.

Sad to hear that the man is dead so young, regardless of whether his art moved me or not, though.

Michael J Carl

I think it is important to separate Kinkade the artist from Kinkade the marketer. I have been to one of his mall stores. Occasionally they would have an original oil and although the scenes were usually rather cliched the colors were wonderful and he clearly had command of his medium. Now next to the original would often be an inkjet on canvas with oil embellishments and twinkling leds in the highlights. They made me wince.

I think the art community over reacts to the mass popularity of Kincade's work and trashes it. Too bad. While trying to pigeonhole a man they just demonstrate how narrow minded and insular they are.

Kincade definitely had something good and interesting to say if we only look for it and I'm sad his voice is now silent.

JG Zoellner

A thoughtful and balanced piece of writing, which causes me to reexamine my artistic prejudices. One can never do this too much, for I find excesssive self-assurance and (alas) self-righteousness are plenty present in my motives and "artistic criteria". Thank you Brooks, for having the courage of your convictions, offered up in a generous and humble spirit.

JG Zoellner

James Bullard

I've long felt that there are at least two "art worlds". There is the academic/gallery world and then there is the rest of the art world, a collection of various artists and styles that the self appointed officialdom of the academics, galleries and museums consider beneath their standards.

I agree with you that Kinkade belonged to the 'lesser' art world but I would not put him him in the same category as Rockwell and Disney because although he may have been on their par with his skill, his work lacks the narrative of Rockwell or Disney. They both used their skill to tell stories that resonated with the average person. Kinkade had only one story which he packaged and sold over and over. His highest skill undoubtedly was marketing. In that sense he was right up there with the likes of Cristo and Damien Hirst IMO. Not that that helps my estimation of his paintings. I don't think too highly of Cristo or Hirst either.


Thank you for your insights. I have pondered the question of art as a form of pleasing the viewer or of pleasing the artist before, yet never have reached a conclusion. Maybe they are just two seperate things, as you have said. Or they are seperate for most artists, yet some reach a point where the "artistically uneducated masses" come to love their art too. If they then get trashed for their commercial appeal - so be it.

JW Stoner

I too have been amazed at the level of animosity displayed toward him over the length of his career. In one review he was scathingly described as an evangelist with a paintbrush.

In general his work didn’t resonate with me. However it did with hundreds of thousands of people – many who were moved to buy his art to hang in their homes. I believe the more people buying art the better it is for all artists.

I have a feeling many of his critics would have loved to have had his success.

Nathan McCreery

In my observation artists and art critics are among the most narrow minded individuals on the planet. If you make art they like, they like you. If you make art, other than what is commonly accepted, at that moment in time, your work isn't worthy and doesn't measure up. Forget the level of craftsmanship and personal vision you express. To the art establishment, if it isn't dark, dreary and dysfunctional it isn't really "high art" and doesn't deserve to be seen. I didn't particularly care for the work of Thomas Kinkade. However, he was personally very successful at making, and selling his art. For that he should be applauded. If we live in a world that is so narrow that his work can't be included then we live in an unfortunate universe.

Ignazio Sale

It reminds me a bit of when Roberto Rossellini, the film director stopped making "artistic" films and started making his "history" films.

Some quotes: “I no longer consider myself to be an artist of the cinema, one of that godlike coterie of directors producing masterpieces to stun the world. I now see myself as scientist and craftsman. For me, Shakespeare and Rembrandt and Matisse were also scientists. The cinema must become scientific, it must learn to dispense knowledge and awareness.”

“The world should expect something from intellectuals and artists, a clarifying function, a compass, not just navel-gazing.”

He was dismissed by the art establishment after this.


When we cannot define what art is, we could just as well stop wondering wether some product is art or not. It seems likely, that "art" is not a property of the artwork, but rather its ability to have some effect on the beholder. Since no two peoplae are equal, consent about what is art is more surprising than dissent. In this view, the label "art" is. more than anything else, a marketing tool. As long as selling art makes better money than selling he same thing by another denominator, I will sell art. And defend the exclusivity of the word to anyone who is trying to devaluate it.

Dominic Ciancibelli

It's unfortunate that this discussion even has to take place on whether or not Kinkade was an artist. He did paint pretty pictures on canvas for those uneducated to the world of fine art. Art for the people. Easy to understand and accessible to the uneducated and uninformed. But certainly not for the advancement of art. His work is/was certainly the lowest form of "art" being manufactured for profit. He was the Phineas Taylor Barnum of Hallmark card art. Gushy pictorial fantasy several hundred years out of sync with contemporary art. I do feel sorry for those who don't recognize the difference. Norman Rockwell was an illustrator by his own admission. Probably one of the best of the 20th century and certainly one of the most popular. Like Kinkade his work catered to an unsophisticated general public. And Walt Disney was an animator, no? A crafty one at that. Disney, Kinkade and Rockwell all created lucrative industries with their work. But hey folks.... let's not confuse these guys with the likes of Cezanne, Picasso and Pollock. The aim of high art is to move forward into new and unexplored territory. Calendar style landscapes, barbershop illustrations and cartoons are not the stuff of high art. Lets keep that stuff on our refrigerators.

William Kratville

I cannot put Kinkade in the same company as Disney or Rockwell. Disney was a visionary and created animation as an art form and then evolved to motion pictures and finally as a futurist. Rockwell evoked a pathos few painters ever achieve.
The first time I saw a Kinkade was over 20 years ago. It was a lithograph of one of his gazebo paintings. It was quite beautiful. I have followed him over the years and instead of evolving he devolved into what he is now being remembered for – commercialized images of Currier and Ives postcards with light effects. Was this what he desired? Did he sell out? We admire Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg, then why not Thomas Kinkade.
I would place Kinkade not with Disney and Rockwell but with Jobs and Spielberg, capitalist first, artist second.


I guess I'm part of the uneducated masses: I truly enjoy pretty pictures.

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