Thomas Kinkade as a nihilistic, dangerous artist

A good test-case for our discussions about what makes for Christian art.  Christian art historian Daniel Siedell (a Lutheran sympathizer) on the bad theology of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, the popular “painter of light” who died recently:

Kinkade claimed, “I like to portray a world without the Fall.” My professional colleagues dismissed Kinkade’s work as harmlessly trite, uninteresting, nostalgic, and sentimental illustrations that provide consumers with an “art-like” experience without the rigors and demand of attending seriously to learning the tradition of serious art. . . .

But from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous. Kinkade and his devotees have long railed against the nihilism of modern art and the contemporary art world. But because it denies the very foundation of our relationship to God in Christ, Kinkade’s work is more nihilistic than anything Picasso and Pollock could paint, or Nietzsche and Sartre could write.

Because it is an outgrowth of his (imagined) view of a world “before the Fall,” Kinkade depicts a world governed by obedience to the law. . . . But the Edenic world Kinkade projects is pretty much the fallen world without the dirtiness of the city and the inconvenience of other people, a weekend getaway in the country. All we need to do to return to Eden is get our lives in order. Kinkade’s much ballyhooed “light” merely adds atmosphere and glow, a pleasant touch to an already charming scene. And because it makes us so comfortable, it is a very dark light indeed.

Kinkade’s work is the meticulously painted smile on the Joker’s disfigured face. It refuses to deal with the fallenness, brokenness, sinfulness of the world. And more troubling, it enables his clientele to escape into an imaginary world where things can be pretty good, as long as we have our faith, our family values, and a visual imagery that re-affirms all this at the office and at home. . . .

But Kinkade’s work refuses to take us to the end of ourselves, refuses the confrontations and disruption that could open us up to grace. His images give us a world that’s really okay, a world in which all we need is home and hearth, a weekend retreat, a cozy night with the family to put us right with God. It is a world devoid of pain and suffering; devoid of any fear of insanity or suicide. As a result, it is also a world without grace, without the Word that offers it. Kinkade’s multi-million dollar empire was built on our fallen human refusal to confront our innate hopelessness and our need to do what the Ninevites did in the book of Jonah, rip our clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and beg for God’s grace. “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3: 9).

Although his visual imagery refused to acknowledge violence and desperation, Kinkade’s personal life was full of it. I can only imagine the excruciating pressure he felt to live up to these deceptively dangerous paintings, which deprived him of the grace he so desperately needed. If only Kinkade could have used his considerable artistic gifts to produce work that came out of his fear, anger, desperation, and his struggle with faith in Christ, he just might have become a painter of Light.

via The Dark Light of Thomas Kinkade.

Read it all.  Dr. Siedell’s complaint is about works that are all law, while implying that we can easily keep that law.   That encourages complacency, self-righteousness, and salvation by works.  He argues for work that destroys our complacency, while opening us up to God’s grace in Christ.  That is to say, Dr. Siedell is applying a Law/Gospel hermeneutic to art criticism!

HT:  Ben Guido

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • larry

    I read the whole article, very good. I always thought Kinkade’s work, though not a fan, had a haunting emptiness to them I could not quite put my finger on. But the visual effect was there for me. Hard to ‘put a finger on’ I suppose because its outshell is serene. I suppose Kinkade was the visual version of Ostean and similar.

  • larry

    I read the whole article, very good. I always thought Kinkade’s work, though not a fan, had a haunting emptiness to them I could not quite put my finger on. But the visual effect was there for me. Hard to ‘put a finger on’ I suppose because its outshell is serene. I suppose Kinkade was the visual version of Ostean and similar.

  • Rose

    “Whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
    “A Christmas Gathering” is easier to live with than some provocative art. Give me a break.

  • Rose

    “Whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
    “A Christmas Gathering” is easier to live with than some provocative art. Give me a break.

  • http://ryanfouts.com Ryan Fouts

    Certainly interesting and well thought out, though I suspect he is giving (oddly) Kinkade too much credit in terms of any deeper meaning than pretty pictures intended to extol the beauty of creation. Dangerous? I don’t know… I can see his point, but I doubt too many of Kinkade’s fans are the sort of art critics that would look for that deeper sort of meaning, and even if they did, I tend to think the Holy Spirit deserves a bit more credit for sustaining people’s faith than the power of pretty pictures to shatter it. On the other hand, I’ve even heard people glean radically heretical notions from even the purest theological sources (even Osiander claimed he had Luther right!) so its not beyond the realm of possbility that a postmodern perspective on Kinkade could, perhaps, allow for a few heretical notions too.

  • http://ryanfouts.com Ryan Fouts

    Certainly interesting and well thought out, though I suspect he is giving (oddly) Kinkade too much credit in terms of any deeper meaning than pretty pictures intended to extol the beauty of creation. Dangerous? I don’t know… I can see his point, but I doubt too many of Kinkade’s fans are the sort of art critics that would look for that deeper sort of meaning, and even if they did, I tend to think the Holy Spirit deserves a bit more credit for sustaining people’s faith than the power of pretty pictures to shatter it. On the other hand, I’ve even heard people glean radically heretical notions from even the purest theological sources (even Osiander claimed he had Luther right!) so its not beyond the realm of possbility that a postmodern perspective on Kinkade could, perhaps, allow for a few heretical notions too.

  • Random Lutheran

    Post #3 gets it. Siedell is simply trying too hard; while bad theology may very well lie behind Kinkade’s work, that’s not the reason it’s dangerous. The reason it is dangerous is that it is too often mistaken for good art (likely because Kinkade’s technical skills are mistaken to be the mark of a good artist), when it is anything but. To summarize the best criticism I’ve heard of Kinkade’s work: overlit treacle.

  • Random Lutheran

    Post #3 gets it. Siedell is simply trying too hard; while bad theology may very well lie behind Kinkade’s work, that’s not the reason it’s dangerous. The reason it is dangerous is that it is too often mistaken for good art (likely because Kinkade’s technical skills are mistaken to be the mark of a good artist), when it is anything but. To summarize the best criticism I’ve heard of Kinkade’s work: overlit treacle.

  • Orianna Laun

    I have never cared much for his cottages and such, but I loved his city scenes and plein air works. Those seemed more real. Perhaps that is why.

  • Orianna Laun

    I have never cared much for his cottages and such, but I loved his city scenes and plein air works. Those seemed more real. Perhaps that is why.

  • Bruce Lucas

    I never analyzed Kinkade’s painting that deeply. I simply find the brightness and contrast of the colors too unrealistic for my tastes. Also, I have never read anything about Kinkade before I read this article, but if he was indeed trying to depict Eden, I agree that he failed. I think that the beauty of Eden was far more subtle and, simultaneously, far more wondrous on account of the presence of God. Perhaps the closest that we get to Eden now is the Sacrament of the Altar.

  • Bruce Lucas

    I never analyzed Kinkade’s painting that deeply. I simply find the brightness and contrast of the colors too unrealistic for my tastes. Also, I have never read anything about Kinkade before I read this article, but if he was indeed trying to depict Eden, I agree that he failed. I think that the beauty of Eden was far more subtle and, simultaneously, far more wondrous on account of the presence of God. Perhaps the closest that we get to Eden now is the Sacrament of the Altar.

  • #4 Kitty

    Then the same can be said for pastoral poetry.
    I never thought Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” nihilistic or dangerous.

    COME live with me and be my Love,
    And we will all the pleasures prove
    That hills and valleys, dale and field,
    And all the craggy mountains yield.

    There will we sit upon the rocks 5
    And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
    By shallow rivers, to whose falls
    Melodious birds sing madrigals.

    There will I make thee beds of roses
    And a thousand fragrant posies, 10
    A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
    Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.

    A gown made of the finest wool
    Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
    Fair linèd slippers for the cold, 15
    With buckles of the purest gold.

    A belt of straw and ivy buds
    With coral clasps and amber studs:
    And if these pleasures may thee move,
    Come live with me and be my Love. 20

    Thy silver dishes for thy meat
    As precious as the gods do eat,
    Shall on an ivory table be
    Prepared each day for thee and me.

    The shepherd swains shall dance and sing 25
    For thy delight each May-morning:
    If these delights thy mind may move,
    Then live with me and be my Love.

  • #4 Kitty

    Then the same can be said for pastoral poetry.
    I never thought Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” nihilistic or dangerous.

    COME live with me and be my Love,
    And we will all the pleasures prove
    That hills and valleys, dale and field,
    And all the craggy mountains yield.

    There will we sit upon the rocks 5
    And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
    By shallow rivers, to whose falls
    Melodious birds sing madrigals.

    There will I make thee beds of roses
    And a thousand fragrant posies, 10
    A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
    Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.

    A gown made of the finest wool
    Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
    Fair linèd slippers for the cold, 15
    With buckles of the purest gold.

    A belt of straw and ivy buds
    With coral clasps and amber studs:
    And if these pleasures may thee move,
    Come live with me and be my Love. 20

    Thy silver dishes for thy meat
    As precious as the gods do eat,
    Shall on an ivory table be
    Prepared each day for thee and me.

    The shepherd swains shall dance and sing 25
    For thy delight each May-morning:
    If these delights thy mind may move,
    Then live with me and be my Love.

  • SKPeterson

    Kitty @ 7 – Kit Marlowe is a dangerous, nihilistic poet. I see your ante and raise you one Ovid.

    As when the bird leads forth her tender young,
    from high-swung nest to try the yielding air;
    so he prevailed on willing Icarus;
    335 encouraged and instructed him in a]l
    the fatal art; and as he waved his wings
    looked backward on his son.
    Beneath their flight,
    the fisherman while casting his long rod,
    340 or the tired shepherd leaning on his crook,
    or the rough plowman as he raised his eyes,
    astonished might observe them on the wing,
    and worship them as Gods.
    Upon the left
    345 they passed by Samos, Juno’s sacred isle;
    Delos and Paros too, were left behind;
    and on the right Lebinthus and Calymne,
    fruitful in honey. Proud of his success,
    the foolish Icarus forsook his guide,
    350 and, bold in vanity, began to soar,
    rising upon his wings to touch the skies;
    but as he neared the scorching sun, its heat
    softened the fragrant wax that held his plumes;
    and heat increasing melted the soft wax–
    355 he waved his naked arms instead of wings,
    with no more feathers to sustain his flight.
    And as he called upon his father’s name
    his voice was smothered in the dark blue sea,
    now called Icarian from the dead boy’s name.

    Which inspired one Marlowe to write in Faustus:

    Till swoll’n with cunning of a self conceit,
    His waxen wings did mount above his reach
    And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow.

    And then this painting by Brueghel:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/icarus.jpg

    which leads to this poem by W.H. Auden Musee des Beaux Arts:

    About suffering they were never wrong,
    The Old Masters: how well they understood
    Its human position; how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along …
    In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure. The sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

    By which we can see from the post yesterday on Auden that all of Anglicanism has fallen into a nihilistic, dangerous cesspool. It is only a short leap from this fallen Anglicanism to the Church of the Nazarene in which Kinkade was a member.

    So we have Ovid –> Marlowe –> Brueghel –> Auden –> Kinkade paralleled by paganism –> Anglicanism –> Dutch Reformed –> Anglicanism –> Nazarenes. The entire collapse of Western art and Protestantism encapsulated in a few poems and paintings.
    ;)

  • SKPeterson

    Kitty @ 7 – Kit Marlowe is a dangerous, nihilistic poet. I see your ante and raise you one Ovid.

    As when the bird leads forth her tender young,
    from high-swung nest to try the yielding air;
    so he prevailed on willing Icarus;
    335 encouraged and instructed him in a]l
    the fatal art; and as he waved his wings
    looked backward on his son.
    Beneath their flight,
    the fisherman while casting his long rod,
    340 or the tired shepherd leaning on his crook,
    or the rough plowman as he raised his eyes,
    astonished might observe them on the wing,
    and worship them as Gods.
    Upon the left
    345 they passed by Samos, Juno’s sacred isle;
    Delos and Paros too, were left behind;
    and on the right Lebinthus and Calymne,
    fruitful in honey. Proud of his success,
    the foolish Icarus forsook his guide,
    350 and, bold in vanity, began to soar,
    rising upon his wings to touch the skies;
    but as he neared the scorching sun, its heat
    softened the fragrant wax that held his plumes;
    and heat increasing melted the soft wax–
    355 he waved his naked arms instead of wings,
    with no more feathers to sustain his flight.
    And as he called upon his father’s name
    his voice was smothered in the dark blue sea,
    now called Icarian from the dead boy’s name.

    Which inspired one Marlowe to write in Faustus:

    Till swoll’n with cunning of a self conceit,
    His waxen wings did mount above his reach
    And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow.

    And then this painting by Brueghel:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/icarus.jpg

    which leads to this poem by W.H. Auden Musee des Beaux Arts:

    About suffering they were never wrong,
    The Old Masters: how well they understood
    Its human position; how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along …
    In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure. The sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

    By which we can see from the post yesterday on Auden that all of Anglicanism has fallen into a nihilistic, dangerous cesspool. It is only a short leap from this fallen Anglicanism to the Church of the Nazarene in which Kinkade was a member.

    So we have Ovid –> Marlowe –> Brueghel –> Auden –> Kinkade paralleled by paganism –> Anglicanism –> Dutch Reformed –> Anglicanism –> Nazarenes. The entire collapse of Western art and Protestantism encapsulated in a few poems and paintings.
    ;)

  • SKPeterson

    Forgot to add the obligatory HT to Larry Avis Brown for the Auden – Ovid link.

  • SKPeterson

    Forgot to add the obligatory HT to Larry Avis Brown for the Auden – Ovid link.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But isn’t it fair to say that even in our fallen world we still have beauty? Not all aspirations to beauty are necessarily efforts for works righteousness; all one has to do is look at the gospel for this. Yes, Kinkade’s world in it’s ultimate sense is unattainable here, but that doesn’t deny that beauty, order, and truth still exist (albeit it in marred forms) in our world.

    We will never have heaven on earth in this age, but that does not mean we ought to wallow and revel in hell on earth either.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But isn’t it fair to say that even in our fallen world we still have beauty? Not all aspirations to beauty are necessarily efforts for works righteousness; all one has to do is look at the gospel for this. Yes, Kinkade’s world in it’s ultimate sense is unattainable here, but that doesn’t deny that beauty, order, and truth still exist (albeit it in marred forms) in our world.

    We will never have heaven on earth in this age, but that does not mean we ought to wallow and revel in hell on earth either.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I always liked Kincade’s play with bright colors. I don’t pretend to be an art aficionado. I think most who talk about serious art are fools who take it too seriously and look for deep meaning where none exists.

    I am not saying art cannot and does not convey meaning only that people are seeing meaning where there is none or very little.

    Maybe, I am just too heavily influenced by Bobby Ross, Mr. Happy Tree, who painted because it was fun.

    So when I read the snippet of the article, I just kinda rolled my eyes.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I always liked Kincade’s play with bright colors. I don’t pretend to be an art aficionado. I think most who talk about serious art are fools who take it too seriously and look for deep meaning where none exists.

    I am not saying art cannot and does not convey meaning only that people are seeing meaning where there is none or very little.

    Maybe, I am just too heavily influenced by Bobby Ross, Mr. Happy Tree, who painted because it was fun.

    So when I read the snippet of the article, I just kinda rolled my eyes.

  • Reed

    “If only Kinkade could have used his considerable artistic gifts to produce work that came out of his fear, anger, desperation, and his struggle with faith in Christ, he just might have become a painter of Light.”

    I assume he’s joking. What’s wrong with using one’s “considerable artistic gifts” to produce work that arises from joy, hope, and faith? Must art always proceed from darkness?

    And who ever thought Kincaid was anything other than a popular painter, as opposed to a modern Rembrandt? It’s rather like criticizing the Bee Gees for not being more like Beethoven.

  • Reed

    “If only Kinkade could have used his considerable artistic gifts to produce work that came out of his fear, anger, desperation, and his struggle with faith in Christ, he just might have become a painter of Light.”

    I assume he’s joking. What’s wrong with using one’s “considerable artistic gifts” to produce work that arises from joy, hope, and faith? Must art always proceed from darkness?

    And who ever thought Kincaid was anything other than a popular painter, as opposed to a modern Rembrandt? It’s rather like criticizing the Bee Gees for not being more like Beethoven.

  • Tom Hering

    Doc 21 @ 11, how can the Culture War continue if we stop reading too much into things?

  • Tom Hering

    Doc 21 @ 11, how can the Culture War continue if we stop reading too much into things?

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I can’t claim to entirely comprehend the argument, but I think I agree with Siedell. Kinkade’s work had a softness and sentimentality to them (along with the absence of identifiable faces which I’ve always hated in Impressionism) that just repels me.

    By the way, Dr. Veith, I find that although I can access your individual posts when people link to them, I can never get to your main page to check for myself, even when I click on the header up above.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I can’t claim to entirely comprehend the argument, but I think I agree with Siedell. Kinkade’s work had a softness and sentimentality to them (along with the absence of identifiable faces which I’ve always hated in Impressionism) that just repels me.

    By the way, Dr. Veith, I find that although I can access your individual posts when people link to them, I can never get to your main page to check for myself, even when I click on the header up above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    And here, I thought that Kinkade’s paintings were just treacly country kitsch. I’ll know now to cross over to the other side of the hallway where ever I see one of his paintings hung as I pass by.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    And here, I thought that Kinkade’s paintings were just treacly country kitsch. I’ll know now to cross over to the other side of the hallway where ever I see one of his paintings hung as I pass by.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Lars Walker: Seems to work OK for me. Does anybody else have trouble?

    You might try clearing cache and cookies in your browser to see if that does anything for you. Other than that, it’s probably something more sinister infecting your computer. (I hope not)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Lars Walker: Seems to work OK for me. Does anybody else have trouble?

    You might try clearing cache and cookies in your browser to see if that does anything for you. Other than that, it’s probably something more sinister infecting your computer. (I hope not)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Travelling in europe during the late 90′s i would go see all sorts of museums, and especially liked going to art festivals and so on. i thought a lot of the art was trash. Modern art museums I found particularly annoying. But I’d rather see a bunch of glass spermazoids adorning the floor underneath an elongated butt in a Salvador Dali painting hanging on the wall the Stockholm Museet than have an otherwise beautiful day ruined by the sight of a Kinkade. He always made me want to vomit.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Travelling in europe during the late 90′s i would go see all sorts of museums, and especially liked going to art festivals and so on. i thought a lot of the art was trash. Modern art museums I found particularly annoying. But I’d rather see a bunch of glass spermazoids adorning the floor underneath an elongated butt in a Salvador Dali painting hanging on the wall the Stockholm Museet than have an otherwise beautiful day ruined by the sight of a Kinkade. He always made me want to vomit.

  • Dan Kempin

    All I know is that I haven’t heard the word “treacle” used so much since the last time I read “Harry Potter.”

    Wasn’t Kinkade the one who painted inoffensive, pleasant pictures that you could actually recognize?

  • Dan Kempin

    All I know is that I haven’t heard the word “treacle” used so much since the last time I read “Harry Potter.”

    Wasn’t Kinkade the one who painted inoffensive, pleasant pictures that you could actually recognize?

  • #4 Kitty

    But from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous.

    If Thomas Kinkade was a Lutheran theologian who also enjoyed painting do you think he should be called to repentance?

  • #4 Kitty

    But from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous.

    If Thomas Kinkade was a Lutheran theologian who also enjoyed painting do you think he should be called to repentance?

  • DonS

    Oh, please. What a load of pretentious tripe. Dangerous? There are a lot of spiritually dangerous influences in this world, but Kinkade’s paintings, whether you enjoy them or not, are not in that category.

    Siedell needs a life.

  • DonS

    Oh, please. What a load of pretentious tripe. Dangerous? There are a lot of spiritually dangerous influences in this world, but Kinkade’s paintings, whether you enjoy them or not, are not in that category.

    Siedell needs a life.

  • Grace

    Daniel Siedell sounds like a jealous child, pretending to sound as though he actually understands art.

    I love all kinds of art. Have spent much time in water color, oils, and pastels. I have not picked up a brush, pen or pastel for some time. Maybe now I will.

    Some artists see the grotesque in life, and paint what they ‘imagine, distorting the truth, and calling it art. There are artists just like Kinkade who paint with color, the shadows mingled with the light, calling ones attention to a beautiful cottage, lit from within, but lonely. Isn’t that often what life is? It isn’t a façade, it often is truth, with a garden so beautiful you can almost smell the fragrance, but yet what is beyond is sadness, without giving the background or reason.

    We don’t know what Thomas Kinkade’s life was, it was all tucked into his soul, perhaps very sad and lost. Are we not a mixture of joy, sorrow, disappointments? Our faith in Christ Jesus is the only answer to a broken heart – but so many miss the peace that comes from knowing Christ as Savior.

    No matter how much money one has (Kindade had great wealth) no matter how lovely the outside might be, it cannot change the inside, that often mourns a loss. Notice how Kindade always painted the outside, but never the inside? – the inside wasn’t shared, nor did he paint some abstract nonsense that wouldn’t make sense, but attract all the wannabe art critics.

    I have read, since Kinkade passed away, all sorts of ideas, reports, etc., about this mans life. I believe it terribly unkind to indulge in such harsh words, against a man who wanted to paint the most beautiful in this world, rather than project the ugly – There is nothing “dangerous” about these beautiful scenes, all aglow with hushed silence. Enjoy what you see, knowing that what is inside behind the glow is the heart of a man, we don’t know.

  • Grace

    Daniel Siedell sounds like a jealous child, pretending to sound as though he actually understands art.

    I love all kinds of art. Have spent much time in water color, oils, and pastels. I have not picked up a brush, pen or pastel for some time. Maybe now I will.

    Some artists see the grotesque in life, and paint what they ‘imagine, distorting the truth, and calling it art. There are artists just like Kinkade who paint with color, the shadows mingled with the light, calling ones attention to a beautiful cottage, lit from within, but lonely. Isn’t that often what life is? It isn’t a façade, it often is truth, with a garden so beautiful you can almost smell the fragrance, but yet what is beyond is sadness, without giving the background or reason.

    We don’t know what Thomas Kinkade’s life was, it was all tucked into his soul, perhaps very sad and lost. Are we not a mixture of joy, sorrow, disappointments? Our faith in Christ Jesus is the only answer to a broken heart – but so many miss the peace that comes from knowing Christ as Savior.

    No matter how much money one has (Kindade had great wealth) no matter how lovely the outside might be, it cannot change the inside, that often mourns a loss. Notice how Kindade always painted the outside, but never the inside? – the inside wasn’t shared, nor did he paint some abstract nonsense that wouldn’t make sense, but attract all the wannabe art critics.

    I have read, since Kinkade passed away, all sorts of ideas, reports, etc., about this mans life. I believe it terribly unkind to indulge in such harsh words, against a man who wanted to paint the most beautiful in this world, rather than project the ugly – There is nothing “dangerous” about these beautiful scenes, all aglow with hushed silence. Enjoy what you see, knowing that what is inside behind the glow is the heart of a man, we don’t know.

  • Reed

    Many years ago I wrote a paper on C.S. Lewis and the concept of “sehnsucht.” Quoting wiki:

    Lewis described Sehnsucht as the “inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.” In the afterword to the third edition of “The Pilgrim’s Regress” he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:

    “That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of ‘The Well at the World’s End,’ the opening lines of ‘Kublai Khan,’ the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

    Kinkade’s work seems to me to be his own admittedly sentimental attempt to evoke sehnsucht, probably because he had experienced it himself. Given his own sad story, I’m sure he was full of longing for something better and more pristine. And given this world and what it does to us, is that longing inappropriate? Or is it, as Lewis believed, a signpost pointing to our fallenness and our need for redemption?

    Kinkade paintings make me a little sad. They evoke in me half-remembered images of Christmases past, little bits of beauty and peace and yes, love, in a world gone bad . I’m under no illusions about the world I live in and whether it can be reclaimed by human effort, no matter how well-intentioned.

    Maybe it’s not an unfallen world that Kinkade painted, but a world restored, or at least such a world as imagined in his mind’s eye? And is that so wrong? Is that not what scripture gives us with its imagery of lions lying down with lambs?

    Besides, Kincade was a folk artist like Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses. His work was for popular consumption. I doubt he ever once thought he was making a deep statement, and I think it’s a little absurd to say something like “from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous.” Do you REALLY think anyone has been, is, or will be, led astray by a Kinkade painting?

  • Reed

    Many years ago I wrote a paper on C.S. Lewis and the concept of “sehnsucht.” Quoting wiki:

    Lewis described Sehnsucht as the “inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.” In the afterword to the third edition of “The Pilgrim’s Regress” he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:

    “That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of ‘The Well at the World’s End,’ the opening lines of ‘Kublai Khan,’ the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

    Kinkade’s work seems to me to be his own admittedly sentimental attempt to evoke sehnsucht, probably because he had experienced it himself. Given his own sad story, I’m sure he was full of longing for something better and more pristine. And given this world and what it does to us, is that longing inappropriate? Or is it, as Lewis believed, a signpost pointing to our fallenness and our need for redemption?

    Kinkade paintings make me a little sad. They evoke in me half-remembered images of Christmases past, little bits of beauty and peace and yes, love, in a world gone bad . I’m under no illusions about the world I live in and whether it can be reclaimed by human effort, no matter how well-intentioned.

    Maybe it’s not an unfallen world that Kinkade painted, but a world restored, or at least such a world as imagined in his mind’s eye? And is that so wrong? Is that not what scripture gives us with its imagery of lions lying down with lambs?

    Besides, Kincade was a folk artist like Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses. His work was for popular consumption. I doubt he ever once thought he was making a deep statement, and I think it’s a little absurd to say something like “from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous.” Do you REALLY think anyone has been, is, or will be, led astray by a Kinkade painting?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    Oh good. Now I have a theological reason for my revulsion.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    Oh good. Now I have a theological reason for my revulsion.

  • larry

    I think the question, largely being missed in this discussion (but not everyone), was not so much interpreting Kinkade in vacuum of subjectivism but the test case for ‘what makes Christian art’. That’s where the theological lens enters the picture. Kinkade’s work is considered as “Christian art” by far and large, but the valid question is “is it”, since the claim is made. Thus the theological is unavoidable if one is going to make that claim and ask that question. But that presupposes then, “what constitutes Christian art generally speaking”. Well, it fundamentally would not be Law but Gospel, then how does Kinkade or does not Kinkade fit the bill? If he does not, then we have the answer his art is not Christian art, and we live with that answer, and his therefore, differs none whatsoever from a wiccan folk artist whose style may use similar dreamy backdrops with wisps of light here and there. If it is Christian art, as many claim, then how so is the required answer?

  • larry

    I think the question, largely being missed in this discussion (but not everyone), was not so much interpreting Kinkade in vacuum of subjectivism but the test case for ‘what makes Christian art’. That’s where the theological lens enters the picture. Kinkade’s work is considered as “Christian art” by far and large, but the valid question is “is it”, since the claim is made. Thus the theological is unavoidable if one is going to make that claim and ask that question. But that presupposes then, “what constitutes Christian art generally speaking”. Well, it fundamentally would not be Law but Gospel, then how does Kinkade or does not Kinkade fit the bill? If he does not, then we have the answer his art is not Christian art, and we live with that answer, and his therefore, differs none whatsoever from a wiccan folk artist whose style may use similar dreamy backdrops with wisps of light here and there. If it is Christian art, as many claim, then how so is the required answer?

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    Reed @22: The C.S.Lewis quote that came to mind is from his sermon The Weight of Glory, and it happens to be one of my favorite quotes because in preaching what he did he produced the nostalgia he wanted to talk about. I think Kinkade’s works were nostalgic, like he said, before the Fall. Except we are barred from going back. But as Lewis preached, this nostalgia for a “far-off country” is the result of the modern (and post-modern) onslaught to still the voice that says there is nothing more than “today” and the evil enchantment of worldliness. Maybe Mr. Kinkade’s paintings were an indication of this prelapsarian nostalgia, but this nostalgia, I would say, has a man looking the wrong way. And looking the wrong way, one can get stuck and that’s dangerous and you paint the same scene again, and again, and again, and again. Anyway, here’s Lewis:
    “In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and
    Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the
    mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell,
    though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it
    with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he
    would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located
    will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers.
    For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.”

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    Reed @22: The C.S.Lewis quote that came to mind is from his sermon The Weight of Glory, and it happens to be one of my favorite quotes because in preaching what he did he produced the nostalgia he wanted to talk about. I think Kinkade’s works were nostalgic, like he said, before the Fall. Except we are barred from going back. But as Lewis preached, this nostalgia for a “far-off country” is the result of the modern (and post-modern) onslaught to still the voice that says there is nothing more than “today” and the evil enchantment of worldliness. Maybe Mr. Kinkade’s paintings were an indication of this prelapsarian nostalgia, but this nostalgia, I would say, has a man looking the wrong way. And looking the wrong way, one can get stuck and that’s dangerous and you paint the same scene again, and again, and again, and again. Anyway, here’s Lewis:
    “In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and
    Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the
    mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell,
    though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it
    with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he
    would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located
    will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers.
    For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.”

  • larry

    Great quote, especially this honed in moment:

    “But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

  • larry

    Great quote, especially this honed in moment:

    “But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

  • larry

    Even further digging down in that sub-quote: “If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.”

    There’s the gnosticism, the platonism of it all, the ideal versus the reality. The ideal attempts to manufacture a reality that never was as the ideal dreams it up to be. This seems to come across in his work and not surprising his utilization of light in these idealic settings.

  • larry

    Even further digging down in that sub-quote: “If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.”

    There’s the gnosticism, the platonism of it all, the ideal versus the reality. The ideal attempts to manufacture a reality that never was as the ideal dreams it up to be. This seems to come across in his work and not surprising his utilization of light in these idealic settings.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I cleared my cache and that fixed the problem. Thank you.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I cleared my cache and that fixed the problem. Thank you.

  • #4 Kitty

    My favorite is:

    We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter

    However, I think he is being uncharitable to Wordsworth.

    Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it
    with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat….For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

    Wordsworth was only trying to point at it using metaphors. Words (nor paintings) can never identify “the thing itself”~ no, not even our doctrine. All we have are metaphors.

  • #4 Kitty

    My favorite is:

    We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter

    However, I think he is being uncharitable to Wordsworth.

    Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it
    with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat….For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

    Wordsworth was only trying to point at it using metaphors. Words (nor paintings) can never identify “the thing itself”~ no, not even our doctrine. All we have are metaphors.

  • WisdomLover

    Thomas Kinkade a dangerous nihilist?

    He was a piker compared to C.M. Coolidge who gave us the dogs playing poker.

    And don’t even get me started on Red Skelton and his clowns!

  • WisdomLover

    Thomas Kinkade a dangerous nihilist?

    He was a piker compared to C.M. Coolidge who gave us the dogs playing poker.

    And don’t even get me started on Red Skelton and his clowns!

  • helen

    I have not read that bit of C.S. Lewis for a long time, and I loved it again.
    Thanks, Pastor Schroeder!

    Kinkade is something I can leave alone happily! It’s the kind of “art” that decorates holiday cards… “holiday” is deliberate, because they seldom include the meaning of Christmas!

    But just look at the pictures, don’t worry about the painter’s life!

    Wasn’t it also Lewis who also said that people who attempted to figure out his life from what he wrote invariably got it wrong? (rough paraphrase)

  • helen

    I have not read that bit of C.S. Lewis for a long time, and I loved it again.
    Thanks, Pastor Schroeder!

    Kinkade is something I can leave alone happily! It’s the kind of “art” that decorates holiday cards… “holiday” is deliberate, because they seldom include the meaning of Christmas!

    But just look at the pictures, don’t worry about the painter’s life!

    Wasn’t it also Lewis who also said that people who attempted to figure out his life from what he wrote invariably got it wrong? (rough paraphrase)

  • helen

    S’cuse the surplus “also” .. delete the one that’s obtrusive to you!

  • helen

    S’cuse the surplus “also” .. delete the one that’s obtrusive to you!

  • Reed

    I’m not sure I follow the thrust of Rev. Schroeder’s comment with the long quote from “Weight of Glory.” Lewis wasn’t a critic of sehnsucht; he was a proponent of it. Recommended reading: “Bright Shadow of Reality: Spiritual Longing in C.S. Lewis” by Corbin Scott Carnell.

    I’ve been amazed at some of the comments on this site as well as the patheos site that the OP references. The vitriol in some is breathtaking. Seriously? You’d think Kinkade was John Shelby Spong. Kinkade isn’t to my taste, so I don’t buy his work. He seems to me to have been like a Bob Ross with more business acumen.

    But disgust? I try to reserve that for things like Lady GaGa’s “Judas” video or Andres Serrano’s and Robert Mapplethorpe’s “art.”

    Compare Kinkade’s “Boston” with Edouard Cortes similar “Place Pigalle Winter Evening.” Is Cortes also a nihilist? You’re telling me that “Boston” and “Streams of Living Water” have something in common with Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka? With Dada? “Fight Club?” Nine Inch Nails?

    What’s next? Norman Rockwell as an Arian? Muzak as the tool of the Antichrist? Beanie Babies as pagan idols?

    I like John August Swanson’s work. I have a framed print of “Festival of Lights” in my office. Is it nihilistic? Does it need to depict more fear, anger, and desperation, lest it fool us into thinking it yearns for a pre-Fall world governed by Law (and what does that even mean? Abraham was after the Fall but before the Law; Gal 3:15-22)

    I was guided to this site by using Google “related” after leaving Internetmonk, which seems to me to have “jumped the shark” in the last couple of weeks. Maybe I made a mistake coming here.

  • Reed

    I’m not sure I follow the thrust of Rev. Schroeder’s comment with the long quote from “Weight of Glory.” Lewis wasn’t a critic of sehnsucht; he was a proponent of it. Recommended reading: “Bright Shadow of Reality: Spiritual Longing in C.S. Lewis” by Corbin Scott Carnell.

    I’ve been amazed at some of the comments on this site as well as the patheos site that the OP references. The vitriol in some is breathtaking. Seriously? You’d think Kinkade was John Shelby Spong. Kinkade isn’t to my taste, so I don’t buy his work. He seems to me to have been like a Bob Ross with more business acumen.

    But disgust? I try to reserve that for things like Lady GaGa’s “Judas” video or Andres Serrano’s and Robert Mapplethorpe’s “art.”

    Compare Kinkade’s “Boston” with Edouard Cortes similar “Place Pigalle Winter Evening.” Is Cortes also a nihilist? You’re telling me that “Boston” and “Streams of Living Water” have something in common with Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka? With Dada? “Fight Club?” Nine Inch Nails?

    What’s next? Norman Rockwell as an Arian? Muzak as the tool of the Antichrist? Beanie Babies as pagan idols?

    I like John August Swanson’s work. I have a framed print of “Festival of Lights” in my office. Is it nihilistic? Does it need to depict more fear, anger, and desperation, lest it fool us into thinking it yearns for a pre-Fall world governed by Law (and what does that even mean? Abraham was after the Fall but before the Law; Gal 3:15-22)

    I was guided to this site by using Google “related” after leaving Internetmonk, which seems to me to have “jumped the shark” in the last couple of weeks. Maybe I made a mistake coming here.

  • Grace

    Reed @ 33

    “Maybe I made a mistake coming here.”

    Please stay, there are many wonderful people here, give yourself time to get to know them, and they to know you.

  • Grace

    Reed @ 33

    “Maybe I made a mistake coming here.”

    Please stay, there are many wonderful people here, give yourself time to get to know them, and they to know you.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Based on the original comment by Dr. Veith on the given example of ‘trying’ to apply a Law/Gospel hermeneutic to art criticism, it reminded me of comments by Luther in his Heidelburg Disputation, particularly theses #19-22, making me wonder if an “artist” could just as easily be used as a “theologian”…(I said ‘wonder’, as I’m not sure yet if it would works, given an artist focuses on fallen creation, natural revelation at best, and yet a Christian artist might have ‘special’ revelation informing him in consideration of natural revelation. Like I said, just chewing on it now. Anyways, here’s how it would read:

    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian (Artist) who looks upon the “invisible” things of God as though they were clearly “perceptible in those things which have actually happened” (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),

    20. he deserves to be called a theologian (Artist), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

    21. A theology (Artistry) of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology (Artistry) of the cross calls (paints?) the thing what it actually is.

    22. That wisdom (artistic eye?) which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Based on the original comment by Dr. Veith on the given example of ‘trying’ to apply a Law/Gospel hermeneutic to art criticism, it reminded me of comments by Luther in his Heidelburg Disputation, particularly theses #19-22, making me wonder if an “artist” could just as easily be used as a “theologian”…(I said ‘wonder’, as I’m not sure yet if it would works, given an artist focuses on fallen creation, natural revelation at best, and yet a Christian artist might have ‘special’ revelation informing him in consideration of natural revelation. Like I said, just chewing on it now. Anyways, here’s how it would read:

    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian (Artist) who looks upon the “invisible” things of God as though they were clearly “perceptible in those things which have actually happened” (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),

    20. he deserves to be called a theologian (Artist), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

    21. A theology (Artistry) of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology (Artistry) of the cross calls (paints?) the thing what it actually is.

    22. That wisdom (artistic eye?) which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

  • Reed

    Just found this: a more balanced critique of Kinkade: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/06/thomas-kinkadersquos-cottage-fantasy

    I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. They remind me of the artwork that used to grace the covers of science fiction novels in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    The cityscapes, on the other hand, particularly the earlier ones, are decent faux-Cortes, as I pointed out in an earlier comment.

    I also liked the tone of Carter’s post …more compassion there than in the article referenced by the OP.

  • Reed

    Just found this: a more balanced critique of Kinkade: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/06/thomas-kinkadersquos-cottage-fantasy

    I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. They remind me of the artwork that used to grace the covers of science fiction novels in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    The cityscapes, on the other hand, particularly the earlier ones, are decent faux-Cortes, as I pointed out in an earlier comment.

    I also liked the tone of Carter’s post …more compassion there than in the article referenced by the OP.

  • Grace

    JunkerGeorge @ 35

    Written by: JunkerGeorg @ 35” Like I said, just chewing on it now. Anyways, here’s how it would read:”

    The following is JunkerGeorge rendition of Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25):

    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian (Artist) who looks upon the “invisible” things of God as though they were clearly “perceptible in those things which have actually happened” (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),

    20. he deserves to be called a theologian (Artist), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

    21. A theology (Artistry) of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology (Artistry) of the cross calls (paints?) the thing what it actually is.

    22. That wisdom (artistic eye?) which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

    This is probably the most mixed up mess, using Scripture I’ve ever read, rewording, playing as though the Scripture is nothing but a ‘script’ to be useful when necessary to change the precious HOLY Word of God.

    .

    But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
    2 Corinthians 4

  • Grace

    JunkerGeorge @ 35

    Written by: JunkerGeorg @ 35” Like I said, just chewing on it now. Anyways, here’s how it would read:”

    The following is JunkerGeorge rendition of Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25):

    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian (Artist) who looks upon the “invisible” things of God as though they were clearly “perceptible in those things which have actually happened” (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),

    20. he deserves to be called a theologian (Artist), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

    21. A theology (Artistry) of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology (Artistry) of the cross calls (paints?) the thing what it actually is.

    22. That wisdom (artistic eye?) which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

    This is probably the most mixed up mess, using Scripture I’ve ever read, rewording, playing as though the Scripture is nothing but a ‘script’ to be useful when necessary to change the precious HOLY Word of God.

    .

    But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
    2 Corinthians 4

  • Grace

    Reed @ 36

    You STATED: → → ” I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. They remind me of the artwork that used to grace the covers of science fiction novels in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “

    Have you ever gazed upon Picasso’s work? – what might you think of his influence, which directed his approach to life as he painted away, upon canvas, and those who wished to be thought of as ‘brilliant, commented and praised such work as of the highest marks in art. What nonsensical brush painted strokes you slap at your own statements regarding a man who wanted to make a peace with a warring world.

  • Grace

    Reed @ 36

    You STATED: → → ” I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. They remind me of the artwork that used to grace the covers of science fiction novels in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “

    Have you ever gazed upon Picasso’s work? – what might you think of his influence, which directed his approach to life as he painted away, upon canvas, and those who wished to be thought of as ‘brilliant, commented and praised such work as of the highest marks in art. What nonsensical brush painted strokes you slap at your own statements regarding a man who wanted to make a peace with a warring world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@37), it’s humorous that you felt the need to block-quote most of a comment written all of two comments before yours (misspelling the commenter’s name, twice), and yet completely missed the point of what was being said.

    As JunkerGeorg himself noted, “it reminded me of comments by Luther in his Heidelburg Disputation”. And that’s exactly what JunkerGeorg was quoting (with parenthetical modifications, as alluded to by his own words: “making me wonder if an ‘artist’ could just as easily be used as a ‘theologian’”).

    Come on, Grace.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@37), it’s humorous that you felt the need to block-quote most of a comment written all of two comments before yours (misspelling the commenter’s name, twice), and yet completely missed the point of what was being said.

    As JunkerGeorg himself noted, “it reminded me of comments by Luther in his Heidelburg Disputation”. And that’s exactly what JunkerGeorg was quoting (with parenthetical modifications, as alluded to by his own words: “making me wonder if an ‘artist’ could just as easily be used as a ‘theologian’”).

    Come on, Grace.

  • Reed

    Grace@38

    Have no idea what’s upset you. My comment wasn’t intended as an insult to Kinkade. Just an observation about his unorthodox use of color and the spacial distortions he uses in depicting those cabins, which remind me a bit of those little huts the Hobbits inhabit in Lord of the Rings.

  • Reed

    Grace@38

    Have no idea what’s upset you. My comment wasn’t intended as an insult to Kinkade. Just an observation about his unorthodox use of color and the spacial distortions he uses in depicting those cabins, which remind me a bit of those little huts the Hobbits inhabit in Lord of the Rings.

  • Grace

    Reed:

    YOU WOTE: ” The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. “

    When you wrote @36 “I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. “

    It wasn’t kind, or thoughtful. Kinkades paintings were/are peaceful, and in no way disruptive or “dangerous” as others have stated. Jealousy is something that many exhibt, through their life time, be it in the arts, workplace, anywhere. What I see on this thread is pure envy of a man who was blessed with a very unsusal talent to take light and make it shine through, to make joy and happiness, when perhaps there was sorrow.

  • Grace

    Reed:

    YOU WOTE: ” The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. “

    When you wrote @36 “I sort of agree. The cottage paintings look like they were painted by someone under the influence of a psychotropic substance. “

    It wasn’t kind, or thoughtful. Kinkades paintings were/are peaceful, and in no way disruptive or “dangerous” as others have stated. Jealousy is something that many exhibt, through their life time, be it in the arts, workplace, anywhere. What I see on this thread is pure envy of a man who was blessed with a very unsusal talent to take light and make it shine through, to make joy and happiness, when perhaps there was sorrow.

  • Reed

    Grace@41

    No envy here, Grace. I was agreeing with Joe Carter that Kinkade’s earlier work was quite good if a bit derivative of post-impressionists like Edouard Cortes. Later on his style became less representational. He includes more detail than the post-impressionists but at the same time he distorts the spacial aspects of the buildings and shortens the foreground in perspective. The color palette changes from nearly photo-realistic to garish and unnatural (trees aren’t bright purple). I don’t think it’s inaccurate to characterize the cottage paintings as “psychedelic” thus my comparison to art of the 60s and 70s that was influenced by the LSD culture. I’m not accusing Kinkade of being a drug accuser, merely stating my opinion about part of his body of work.

  • Reed

    Grace@41

    No envy here, Grace. I was agreeing with Joe Carter that Kinkade’s earlier work was quite good if a bit derivative of post-impressionists like Edouard Cortes. Later on his style became less representational. He includes more detail than the post-impressionists but at the same time he distorts the spacial aspects of the buildings and shortens the foreground in perspective. The color palette changes from nearly photo-realistic to garish and unnatural (trees aren’t bright purple). I don’t think it’s inaccurate to characterize the cottage paintings as “psychedelic” thus my comparison to art of the 60s and 70s that was influenced by the LSD culture. I’m not accusing Kinkade of being a drug accuser, merely stating my opinion about part of his body of work.

  • Reed

    @42

    *drug user

  • Reed

    @42

    *drug user

  • Grace

    Reed @ 42
    YOU WROTE: “The color palette changes from nearly photo-realistic to garish and unnatural (trees aren’t bright purple). I don’t think it’s inaccurate to characterize the cottage paintings as “psychedelic” thus my comparison to art of the 60s and 70s that was influenced by the LSD culture. I’m not accusing Kinkade of being a drug accuser, merely stating my opinion about part of his body of work.”

    I use all shades of purple, even “bright purple” or periwinkle, be it in trees, or anything else. As we drove this evening from several appointments, I noticed dozens of Jacaranda trees, lining the middle of the road, and those on the other sides of sidewalks, it was beautiful. As a child, going to kindergarten, we had just one on the playground, I used to sit and look at the flowers on the ground, loving the color, more than any other, looking up at the blossoms on the tree, …. it was my favorite. To this day, all shades of purple, periwinkle and lavendar are my favorite. I could paint anything using those colors.

    “Drugs” aren’t the issue here, as I don’t use drugs, nor do many other artists I know well. I doubt LSD had anything to do with the light and colors used by the man who is now castigated for painting that which is thoughtful and kind.

    I believe the world wants to see revolt, anger, distortion, madness in it’s art, if not outright outrage, and sinful desire…. in order it might be worthy of recognition………………much to it’s shame!

  • Grace

    Reed @ 42
    YOU WROTE: “The color palette changes from nearly photo-realistic to garish and unnatural (trees aren’t bright purple). I don’t think it’s inaccurate to characterize the cottage paintings as “psychedelic” thus my comparison to art of the 60s and 70s that was influenced by the LSD culture. I’m not accusing Kinkade of being a drug accuser, merely stating my opinion about part of his body of work.”

    I use all shades of purple, even “bright purple” or periwinkle, be it in trees, or anything else. As we drove this evening from several appointments, I noticed dozens of Jacaranda trees, lining the middle of the road, and those on the other sides of sidewalks, it was beautiful. As a child, going to kindergarten, we had just one on the playground, I used to sit and look at the flowers on the ground, loving the color, more than any other, looking up at the blossoms on the tree, …. it was my favorite. To this day, all shades of purple, periwinkle and lavendar are my favorite. I could paint anything using those colors.

    “Drugs” aren’t the issue here, as I don’t use drugs, nor do many other artists I know well. I doubt LSD had anything to do with the light and colors used by the man who is now castigated for painting that which is thoughtful and kind.

    I believe the world wants to see revolt, anger, distortion, madness in it’s art, if not outright outrage, and sinful desire…. in order it might be worthy of recognition………………much to it’s shame!

  • Reed

    @44

    Again, not accusing him of taking LSD. It’s an analogy.

    Purple foliage, not purple blossoms. Look at Kinkade’s “Streams of Living Water.” No tree such as the one he’s depicting ever existed, unless it’s some sort of mutant Japanese maple. Of course, other shrubs are blooming in the picture, but it also looks like some of the trees are in autumn foliage too. Not only that, but if you trace the rays of light that have to be producing the shadows in this picture, there are multiple light sources, i.e., suns. I already mentioned the perspective issues and the shortened foreground.

    That’s what Carter’s getting at in his article. In his later work, Kinkade mixes both realistic and fantastical/psychedelic imagery. I suppose you could call it post-post-impressionism, and there aren’t any rules about this kind of thing. I think the thing that makes Kinkade’s critics suspicious is their questions about how such unrealistic artwork can inspire comfort. It seems odd.

    I like the warm glow of lights at night as much as the next guy. But the cottage pictures are a little eerie to me. I like the Christmas scenes (with churches and real houses, not hobbit cabins) and cityscapes much more. The early work is even better.

  • Reed

    @44

    Again, not accusing him of taking LSD. It’s an analogy.

    Purple foliage, not purple blossoms. Look at Kinkade’s “Streams of Living Water.” No tree such as the one he’s depicting ever existed, unless it’s some sort of mutant Japanese maple. Of course, other shrubs are blooming in the picture, but it also looks like some of the trees are in autumn foliage too. Not only that, but if you trace the rays of light that have to be producing the shadows in this picture, there are multiple light sources, i.e., suns. I already mentioned the perspective issues and the shortened foreground.

    That’s what Carter’s getting at in his article. In his later work, Kinkade mixes both realistic and fantastical/psychedelic imagery. I suppose you could call it post-post-impressionism, and there aren’t any rules about this kind of thing. I think the thing that makes Kinkade’s critics suspicious is their questions about how such unrealistic artwork can inspire comfort. It seems odd.

    I like the warm glow of lights at night as much as the next guy. But the cottage pictures are a little eerie to me. I like the Christmas scenes (with churches and real houses, not hobbit cabins) and cityscapes much more. The early work is even better.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Thomas Kinkade: yet another Culture War touchstone, it would seem.

    You know someone’s a Culture War touchstone when Grace trots out (@41) her tired “you’re all just jealous” accusations in his defense. (A quick reminder: she did the same for Tim “Denv… New York Jets” Tebow.)

    Seems to me that most of the people rising up in Kinkade’s defense here aren’t so much art-lovers as people who appreciate his inoffensiveness. Of course, “inoffensiveness” here is defined quite narrowly, because there is actually quite a lot to be offended by in his work and philosophy, should one choose to delve into it. And other than the weekly advertisements in Parade magazine for some truly garish collection of plates no one will ever eat off of, I try to remain as ignorant as possible of the man’s oeuvre.

    Of course, “conservatives” can comfort themselves with the fact that I am something of a fan of (some) modern art, and, as such, my opinion can be completely ignored because, as we all know perfectly well, your six-your-old could paint that. There, I saved anyone having to type that.

    Anyhow, I appreciate the almost obligatory references (@33) to Serrano and Mapplethorpe. Ah, the late 80s, when the Culture War paused to actually write down the names of some artists! And, apparently, when the art world stopped creating anything controversial or offensive. It’s almost offensive to have Johnny-Come-Lady Gaga’s name juxtaposed to those Culture Archnemeses!

    Anyhow, lesson learned: pabulum is next to godliness. And Philippians 4 is really an exhortation to not trouble your pretty little mind with difficult or dark things, like sin (you know, as exhibited throughout most of the Bible). Paul there exhorts the church to “think happy thoughts”: “Whatever is cute, whatever is cozy, whatever is charming, whatever is adorable — if anything is pleasant or innoffensive — think about and purchase facsimile reproductions of such things. And the god of comfortableness will protect the bubble in which you live, so you don’t have to think about the human condition.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Thomas Kinkade: yet another Culture War touchstone, it would seem.

    You know someone’s a Culture War touchstone when Grace trots out (@41) her tired “you’re all just jealous” accusations in his defense. (A quick reminder: she did the same for Tim “Denv… New York Jets” Tebow.)

    Seems to me that most of the people rising up in Kinkade’s defense here aren’t so much art-lovers as people who appreciate his inoffensiveness. Of course, “inoffensiveness” here is defined quite narrowly, because there is actually quite a lot to be offended by in his work and philosophy, should one choose to delve into it. And other than the weekly advertisements in Parade magazine for some truly garish collection of plates no one will ever eat off of, I try to remain as ignorant as possible of the man’s oeuvre.

    Of course, “conservatives” can comfort themselves with the fact that I am something of a fan of (some) modern art, and, as such, my opinion can be completely ignored because, as we all know perfectly well, your six-your-old could paint that. There, I saved anyone having to type that.

    Anyhow, I appreciate the almost obligatory references (@33) to Serrano and Mapplethorpe. Ah, the late 80s, when the Culture War paused to actually write down the names of some artists! And, apparently, when the art world stopped creating anything controversial or offensive. It’s almost offensive to have Johnny-Come-Lady Gaga’s name juxtaposed to those Culture Archnemeses!

    Anyhow, lesson learned: pabulum is next to godliness. And Philippians 4 is really an exhortation to not trouble your pretty little mind with difficult or dark things, like sin (you know, as exhibited throughout most of the Bible). Paul there exhorts the church to “think happy thoughts”: “Whatever is cute, whatever is cozy, whatever is charming, whatever is adorable — if anything is pleasant or innoffensive — think about and purchase facsimile reproductions of such things. And the god of comfortableness will protect the bubble in which you live, so you don’t have to think about the human condition.”

  • Reed

    tODD@46

    “Of course, “conservatives” can comfort themselves with the fact that I am something of a fan of (some) modern art”

    To each his own. I like post-impressionism. I like Van Gogh and Rousseau. I like Cortes too, thus my higher opinion of the earlier Kinkade.

    “…I appreciate the almost obligatory references (@33) to Serrano and Mapplethorpe. Ah, the late 80s, when the Culture War paused to actually write down the names of some artists!”

    Glad to be of service. I guess this dates me.

  • Reed

    tODD@46

    “Of course, “conservatives” can comfort themselves with the fact that I am something of a fan of (some) modern art”

    To each his own. I like post-impressionism. I like Van Gogh and Rousseau. I like Cortes too, thus my higher opinion of the earlier Kinkade.

    “…I appreciate the almost obligatory references (@33) to Serrano and Mapplethorpe. Ah, the late 80s, when the Culture War paused to actually write down the names of some artists!”

    Glad to be of service. I guess this dates me.

  • Grace

    Reed,

    As an artist, who has painted, since I was a child, ….. we artists, use color as we choose. If you want to see confused art, take a look at Picasso. He not only distorted the human form, but exagerated any likeness therefore.

    If you don’t understand color, or the way an artist uses it, so be it.

  • Grace

    Reed,

    As an artist, who has painted, since I was a child, ….. we artists, use color as we choose. If you want to see confused art, take a look at Picasso. He not only distorted the human form, but exagerated any likeness therefore.

    If you don’t understand color, or the way an artist uses it, so be it.

  • Grace

    Reed

    “Glad to be of service. I guess this dates me.”

    Art is timeless, you aren’t dated! ;)

  • Grace

    Reed

    “Glad to be of service. I guess this dates me.”

    Art is timeless, you aren’t dated! ;)

  • Emily Carder

    Grief! Sometimes pigment and oil is just pigment and oil.

  • Emily Carder

    Grief! Sometimes pigment and oil is just pigment and oil.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #46,

    Your comment is interesting, and I’m not sure I follow. There seems to be something under the surface in this discussion of which I am unaware, not having paid much attention to Kinkade other than to vaguely notice that he is popular, and I’d like to grasp it.

    Since I’m the one who threw the phrase “inoffensive” out there, I’d kind of like to know what makes you find that, well, offensive. I mean, to the best of my admittedly sparse knowledge, the guy basically paints houses where people have left the lights on. Is he a Christian? An atheist? A cultural icon or a man with a troubled personal life? I don’t know. I just see a house with the lights on. And it’s pretty. Not all art has to break new ground or challenge my world view. Perhaps it is just hamburger art. (I don’t know enough to say.) I love and appreciate the creation of a skilled chef, but I also love a good burger.

    Anyway, I guess I’m puzzled as to why anyone is even having this discussion. If you had asked me to come up with a difficult premise for debate, I might well have said “the theological implications of Kinkade.” But here we are. It seems up there with “the hidden psychological agenda behind the paint color choices at Home Depot” to me. I seriously wondered if it was satire. Apparently not. That’s what I meant by “inoffensive.”

    You say, “there is actually quite a lot to be offended by in his work and philosophy, should one choose to delve into it.” And then you say, “I try to remain as ignorant as possible of the man’s oeuvre.” That doesn’t make sense to me, coming from you.

    And while you make a clever statement about what Philippians does NOT say, I don’t think anyone here is trying to elevate inoffensiveness or suggesting that we should avoid the human condition. At least I wasn’t.

    Or were you not even talking to me?

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #46,

    Your comment is interesting, and I’m not sure I follow. There seems to be something under the surface in this discussion of which I am unaware, not having paid much attention to Kinkade other than to vaguely notice that he is popular, and I’d like to grasp it.

    Since I’m the one who threw the phrase “inoffensive” out there, I’d kind of like to know what makes you find that, well, offensive. I mean, to the best of my admittedly sparse knowledge, the guy basically paints houses where people have left the lights on. Is he a Christian? An atheist? A cultural icon or a man with a troubled personal life? I don’t know. I just see a house with the lights on. And it’s pretty. Not all art has to break new ground or challenge my world view. Perhaps it is just hamburger art. (I don’t know enough to say.) I love and appreciate the creation of a skilled chef, but I also love a good burger.

    Anyway, I guess I’m puzzled as to why anyone is even having this discussion. If you had asked me to come up with a difficult premise for debate, I might well have said “the theological implications of Kinkade.” But here we are. It seems up there with “the hidden psychological agenda behind the paint color choices at Home Depot” to me. I seriously wondered if it was satire. Apparently not. That’s what I meant by “inoffensive.”

    You say, “there is actually quite a lot to be offended by in his work and philosophy, should one choose to delve into it.” And then you say, “I try to remain as ignorant as possible of the man’s oeuvre.” That doesn’t make sense to me, coming from you.

    And while you make a clever statement about what Philippians does NOT say, I don’t think anyone here is trying to elevate inoffensiveness or suggesting that we should avoid the human condition. At least I wasn’t.

    Or were you not even talking to me?

  • SKPeterson

    And sometimes Emily that pigment and oil is applied to a canvas artistically; sometimes not so much. But, I will admit, Kinkade was no Warhol, and we’re all the better for it.

  • SKPeterson

    And sometimes Emily that pigment and oil is applied to a canvas artistically; sometimes not so much. But, I will admit, Kinkade was no Warhol, and we’re all the better for it.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Grace @37,

    “This is probably the most mixed up mess, using Scripture I’ve ever read, rewording, playing as though the Scripture is nothing but a ‘script’ to be useful when necessary to change the precious HOLY Word of God.”
    —–

    Thankyou Grace! Any time I or another poster here receives a bout of your vitriolic henpecking both for what was there and for what was never there is always a reinforcement that we must be on the right track. In fact, you serve as a helpful guide for threads, as I know any time you post a criticism of another poster then it is worth reading what they had to say. So again, thanks Grace, and thanks be to God above all, Who does indeed work good through all things for the good of those who love Him (sola gratia), yes, even through individuals sadly afflicted by bi-polar disorders and oppressively pharisaical spirituality. Soli Deo Gloria!

  • JunkerGeorg

    Grace @37,

    “This is probably the most mixed up mess, using Scripture I’ve ever read, rewording, playing as though the Scripture is nothing but a ‘script’ to be useful when necessary to change the precious HOLY Word of God.”
    —–

    Thankyou Grace! Any time I or another poster here receives a bout of your vitriolic henpecking both for what was there and for what was never there is always a reinforcement that we must be on the right track. In fact, you serve as a helpful guide for threads, as I know any time you post a criticism of another poster then it is worth reading what they had to say. So again, thanks Grace, and thanks be to God above all, Who does indeed work good through all things for the good of those who love Him (sola gratia), yes, even through individuals sadly afflicted by bi-polar disorders and oppressively pharisaical spirituality. Soli Deo Gloria!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@51), the short answer would be that, sorry, I wasn’t actually talking to you. I try to label my referrants, though I see I missed one (@46): in addition to Grace (@41) and Reed (@33), my comment was also made, in part, to Rose (@2), who first made the Philippians 4 reference.

    If we just want to examine Kinkade’s art in a vacuum, then sure, he is basically inoffensive. I mean, his stuff is schlocky, maudlin, and whatever, but, like a technically competent but otherwise unmoving pop ballad, so what?

    However, nothing exists in a vacuum. There are, of course, the artist’s statements, especially about his intent. Which was the original topic, more or less. Now, I suppose we could have a debate about whether those even matter when considering an artwork. But if one takes the stance that they do, then the original article shows one approach one might take to finding Kinkade’s work offensive.

    I’m a little “meh” on that, mainly because, in contrast to many viewers of modern art, I seriously doubt that most of Kinkade’s viewers know or care anything about the fuller context of his works. That’s sort of the point.

    But the main thing that annoys me about Kinkade is the defense he gets (as seen here, at least in part). And I’m not talking about a resigned “Whatever, it’s pretty, I like it” — that is a response entirely in line with the artistic merit of his works.

    But no, Kinkade’s paintings are actually elevated (by some) above other works of art that challenge or express something ugly about mankind because — and here I quote Rose (@2) — Kinkade’s paintings are “easier to live with”.

    Which is a curious statement about what art should be, that it should be easy, comfortable, nice. In short, I disagree.
    I mean, I get that impulse. I remember the first time I sang all the verses to “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb” to my infant son. Or the first time we sang “All praise to Thee, my God, this night” for our evening family worship. Both songs are, on the whole, very comforting and quite sweet. In many parts, one could even call them Kinkadesque.

    But then there’s death. Death! Death in a bedtime hymn (and not just that, but “powers of darkness”, too!), and even death in an infant’s lullaby. Death! Show me death in a Kinkade painting; I don’t think you’ll find it. It’s too uncomfortable. Too scary. It is, in a very literal sense (ha), not “easy to live with”.

    When I sing those songs to my kid, I can hear scoffers in my head asking in amazement, “You sing that to your kids at night?” But that’s the Kinkade reaction: “But those are ugly topics! Banish them from your pretty mind!” Keep going down that road, and soon you arrive at New Age philosophy like The Secret, or even Joel Osteen!

    Which is why I bristle so much when people drag Philippians 4 into discussions of art. You’ll hear it used, over and over, in defense of Christian commercial schlock, typically “CCM” and “wholesome” movies of the sort that churches bus their congregation to.

    I’ve read the Bible, and it’s chock full of disturbing, ugly stories about sinful people doing horrible things. I’m quite certain that Philippians 4 is not proscribing thinking on such things.

    Anyhow, this rant is totally disjointed, and I’m sorry. It’s Friday.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@51), the short answer would be that, sorry, I wasn’t actually talking to you. I try to label my referrants, though I see I missed one (@46): in addition to Grace (@41) and Reed (@33), my comment was also made, in part, to Rose (@2), who first made the Philippians 4 reference.

    If we just want to examine Kinkade’s art in a vacuum, then sure, he is basically inoffensive. I mean, his stuff is schlocky, maudlin, and whatever, but, like a technically competent but otherwise unmoving pop ballad, so what?

    However, nothing exists in a vacuum. There are, of course, the artist’s statements, especially about his intent. Which was the original topic, more or less. Now, I suppose we could have a debate about whether those even matter when considering an artwork. But if one takes the stance that they do, then the original article shows one approach one might take to finding Kinkade’s work offensive.

    I’m a little “meh” on that, mainly because, in contrast to many viewers of modern art, I seriously doubt that most of Kinkade’s viewers know or care anything about the fuller context of his works. That’s sort of the point.

    But the main thing that annoys me about Kinkade is the defense he gets (as seen here, at least in part). And I’m not talking about a resigned “Whatever, it’s pretty, I like it” — that is a response entirely in line with the artistic merit of his works.

    But no, Kinkade’s paintings are actually elevated (by some) above other works of art that challenge or express something ugly about mankind because — and here I quote Rose (@2) — Kinkade’s paintings are “easier to live with”.

    Which is a curious statement about what art should be, that it should be easy, comfortable, nice. In short, I disagree.
    I mean, I get that impulse. I remember the first time I sang all the verses to “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb” to my infant son. Or the first time we sang “All praise to Thee, my God, this night” for our evening family worship. Both songs are, on the whole, very comforting and quite sweet. In many parts, one could even call them Kinkadesque.

    But then there’s death. Death! Death in a bedtime hymn (and not just that, but “powers of darkness”, too!), and even death in an infant’s lullaby. Death! Show me death in a Kinkade painting; I don’t think you’ll find it. It’s too uncomfortable. Too scary. It is, in a very literal sense (ha), not “easy to live with”.

    When I sing those songs to my kid, I can hear scoffers in my head asking in amazement, “You sing that to your kids at night?” But that’s the Kinkade reaction: “But those are ugly topics! Banish them from your pretty mind!” Keep going down that road, and soon you arrive at New Age philosophy like The Secret, or even Joel Osteen!

    Which is why I bristle so much when people drag Philippians 4 into discussions of art. You’ll hear it used, over and over, in defense of Christian commercial schlock, typically “CCM” and “wholesome” movies of the sort that churches bus their congregation to.

    I’ve read the Bible, and it’s chock full of disturbing, ugly stories about sinful people doing horrible things. I’m quite certain that Philippians 4 is not proscribing thinking on such things.

    Anyhow, this rant is totally disjointed, and I’m sorry. It’s Friday.

  • Grace

    The passage below, written by Paul, is a wonderful Scripture, even though it does a disappearing act on this thread.

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    Philippians 4:8

  • Grace

    The passage below, written by Paul, is a wonderful Scripture, even though it does a disappearing act on this thread.

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    Philippians 4:8

  • Grace

    I don’t find, on this thread, where I posted the Scripture I have just posted above @55 from Philippians 4:8.

  • Grace

    I don’t find, on this thread, where I posted the Scripture I have just posted above @55 from Philippians 4:8.

  • Just Me

    Oh really now..this is ludicrous. Light and beauty being ‘nihilistic’? There is beauty here, there is light, there are a lot of wonderous things in this world, why is it dangerous to showcase them? Quoting other’s thoughts to show the ability to have an original thought is pointless. Trying to unravel the meaning of someone else’s labor and work to show…what? Here’s an idea, write your own poetry, paint your own paintings and make your own quotes. “Nothing more vacuous than a talentless critic who must use other’s ideas to support their own”. My quote, by me.

  • Just Me

    Oh really now..this is ludicrous. Light and beauty being ‘nihilistic’? There is beauty here, there is light, there are a lot of wonderous things in this world, why is it dangerous to showcase them? Quoting other’s thoughts to show the ability to have an original thought is pointless. Trying to unravel the meaning of someone else’s labor and work to show…what? Here’s an idea, write your own poetry, paint your own paintings and make your own quotes. “Nothing more vacuous than a talentless critic who must use other’s ideas to support their own”. My quote, by me.

  • http://www.aol.com Patricia Urbano

    Thomas Kinkade was a good christian who happened to be believe that creating tranquil scenes would “take us away momentarily” from a harsh, hateful, cruel world of “critics” who think we have to have some hodge podge abstract nothing to look at. Just because we see serene cottages, gazebos, trees, water, etc., doesn’t mean we are in denial of what’s “real”. We get enough “real” in the newspapers every day.
    His works say “look at me – I’m beautiful, comforting, and as Christ says, “I will give you peace”.
    I’ll say it again, Thomas Kinkade was a good christian and beautiful person and it showed in his art. The intention of every one of his works was to instill peace in the beholder; that’s it. What is so wrong with that. He will be missed, but thank God, his art will live forever.

  • http://www.aol.com Patricia Urbano

    Thomas Kinkade was a good christian who happened to be believe that creating tranquil scenes would “take us away momentarily” from a harsh, hateful, cruel world of “critics” who think we have to have some hodge podge abstract nothing to look at. Just because we see serene cottages, gazebos, trees, water, etc., doesn’t mean we are in denial of what’s “real”. We get enough “real” in the newspapers every day.
    His works say “look at me – I’m beautiful, comforting, and as Christ says, “I will give you peace”.
    I’ll say it again, Thomas Kinkade was a good christian and beautiful person and it showed in his art. The intention of every one of his works was to instill peace in the beholder; that’s it. What is so wrong with that. He will be missed, but thank God, his art will live forever.

  • Grace

    Patricia @ 58

    Your portrayal of Kinkade’s work, the way in which he imparted such loveliness, peace and kindness, will never be forgotten. All the critics need only search the Scriptures – we are to seek peace, and that is what Thomas Kinkade’s paintings represent.

    Thank you for such thoughtful insights into Kinkade’s work.

  • Grace

    Patricia @ 58

    Your portrayal of Kinkade’s work, the way in which he imparted such loveliness, peace and kindness, will never be forgotten. All the critics need only search the Scriptures – we are to seek peace, and that is what Thomas Kinkade’s paintings represent.

    Thank you for such thoughtful insights into Kinkade’s work.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@59):

    All the critics need only search the Scriptures – we are to seek peace, and that is what Thomas Kinkade’s paintings represent.

    Well Grace, I did what you said and searched the Scriptures, and here’s what I found. Jesus said:

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    Jesus said this shortly before he was brutally tortured and executed because of what my sins had merited.

    That is the peace that Jesus gives — the peace that comes from forgiveness won when He who had no sin became my sin.

    And, as Jesus said, the peace he gives is “not as the world gives”. You want peace like the world gives? Then you can have your “peaceful” seaside cottage scenes bereft of humans, the interiors all aglow as if there were a raging forest fire inside every building.

    But unless Kinkade actually focused on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, then it is highly ironic — in fact, it’s worse than that — that you (and Patricia, @58) would suggest that Thomas Kinkade’s paintings “represent” the peace that Scripture speaks of.

    It is nothing of the sort. Any non-believer can have that kind of “peace”, of family gatherings in a snowy landscape, or whatever. No faith is necessary. It’s bizarre that you two would miss that very obvious point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@59):

    All the critics need only search the Scriptures – we are to seek peace, and that is what Thomas Kinkade’s paintings represent.

    Well Grace, I did what you said and searched the Scriptures, and here’s what I found. Jesus said:

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    Jesus said this shortly before he was brutally tortured and executed because of what my sins had merited.

    That is the peace that Jesus gives — the peace that comes from forgiveness won when He who had no sin became my sin.

    And, as Jesus said, the peace he gives is “not as the world gives”. You want peace like the world gives? Then you can have your “peaceful” seaside cottage scenes bereft of humans, the interiors all aglow as if there were a raging forest fire inside every building.

    But unless Kinkade actually focused on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, then it is highly ironic — in fact, it’s worse than that — that you (and Patricia, @58) would suggest that Thomas Kinkade’s paintings “represent” the peace that Scripture speaks of.

    It is nothing of the sort. Any non-believer can have that kind of “peace”, of family gatherings in a snowy landscape, or whatever. No faith is necessary. It’s bizarre that you two would miss that very obvious point.

  • Grace

    It’s good to KNOW that the Word of God tells us to “seek peace” – all too many seek discord!

    Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
    1 Peter 3:11

    Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalms34:14

  • Grace

    It’s good to KNOW that the Word of God tells us to “seek peace” – all too many seek discord!

    Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
    1 Peter 3:11

    Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalms34:14

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@61), congratulations on doing a search for the phrase “seek peace” in your Bible software of choice.

    However, you missed the third result for that phrase (or failed to paste it into your comment), and it is an interesting one:

    When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. (Ezekiel 7:25)

    In other words, it’s not at all enough to merely “seek peace”. Many will seek peace in the last day and won’t find it because they’ll be looking for peace as the world understands it. You know, like wind-whipped seaside cottages and fires all aglow and blah blah blah.

    Thomas Kinkade’s homey schlock knows nothing of the peace that Christ gives. Why in the world would you try to argue otherwise?

    Short answer: Because you’re fighting a Culture War, not a theological one.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@61), congratulations on doing a search for the phrase “seek peace” in your Bible software of choice.

    However, you missed the third result for that phrase (or failed to paste it into your comment), and it is an interesting one:

    When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. (Ezekiel 7:25)

    In other words, it’s not at all enough to merely “seek peace”. Many will seek peace in the last day and won’t find it because they’ll be looking for peace as the world understands it. You know, like wind-whipped seaside cottages and fires all aglow and blah blah blah.

    Thomas Kinkade’s homey schlock knows nothing of the peace that Christ gives. Why in the world would you try to argue otherwise?

    Short answer: Because you’re fighting a Culture War, not a theological one.

  • Grace

    You might be searching through your engines, keep looking, you’ll find some passages to help you understand the peace, that Christian Believers are called to.

    The so called “culture war” is yours, you can play and google it. I don’t have time to play the phrase over and over again, it’s not cogent, or relative when it despises Scripture, hates the very joy of a peaceful painting.

  • Grace

    You might be searching through your engines, keep looking, you’ll find some passages to help you understand the peace, that Christian Believers are called to.

    The so called “culture war” is yours, you can play and google it. I don’t have time to play the phrase over and over again, it’s not cogent, or relative when it despises Scripture, hates the very joy of a peaceful painting.

  • Pingback: Art, Christ, and the agony of Thomas Kinkade

  • Pingback: Art, Christ, and the agony of Thomas Kinkade

  • brettongarcia

    I think probably Kinkade simply uttered a theologically unconsidered remark, without intending much. Likely he would’ve revised that, to envisage a “Post second Coming Kingdom,” if he’d considered his remarks.

    His pictures in fact, 1) do properly feature “light”; a major Christian motiff. And 2) that light, serves a typically Christian function; it illuminates especially the quiet, almost hermetical life, in retreat from a larger “world.”

  • brettongarcia

    I think probably Kinkade simply uttered a theologically unconsidered remark, without intending much. Likely he would’ve revised that, to envisage a “Post second Coming Kingdom,” if he’d considered his remarks.

    His pictures in fact, 1) do properly feature “light”; a major Christian motiff. And 2) that light, serves a typically Christian function; it illuminates especially the quiet, almost hermetical life, in retreat from a larger “world.”

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  • Dianne

    You my friend are very disturbed. To say that Kincade’s art does not show grace is beyond belief. The light of God’s love and forgiveness shines out in all his paintings. Yes we live in a fallen world that does not mean that God’s light is not all around us. Also. family and hearth and home is a big part of our Christian walk. Our homes should be a beacon shining out with the grace and love of Christ.

  • Dianne

    You my friend are very disturbed. To say that Kincade’s art does not show grace is beyond belief. The light of God’s love and forgiveness shines out in all his paintings. Yes we live in a fallen world that does not mean that God’s light is not all around us. Also. family and hearth and home is a big part of our Christian walk. Our homes should be a beacon shining out with the grace and love of Christ.


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