Art, Christ, and the agony of Thomas Kinkade

We earlier posted about Daniel Siedell’s contention that the late Thomas Kinkade was a “dangerous” artist because his work purposefully evades the Fall.  But in this followup piece, Siedell, drawing on Luther and Lutheran theologian Oswald Beyer, brings Christ and the freedom of the Gospel  into the picture (so to speak):

Last week I suggested that Kinkade’s quaint and nostalgic images, as pleasant as they seem to be, are dangerous, offering a comfortable world that silences the two words with which God speaks to us (law and gospel). The world isn’t so bad, faith isn’t so hard, grace therefore not so desperately sought. Following Michael Horton, Kinkade’s desire to depict a world before the Fall is Christ-less Christianity in paint.

I would like to go even further and suggest that it was Kinkade’s work that killed him. It was not a weak heart or too much alcohol that caused his sudden death at 54 on Good Friday, but the unrelenting pressure that the production and distribution of these images exerted on a man who spent thirty years trying to live up to their impossible and inhuman standard. His emotional life found no creative release in and through his studio work. As he, like each of us, experienced the ebb and flow of life, the challenges, tragedies, and the struggle with personal demons, he was forced (condemned) to produce the same, innocuously nostalgic pictures again and again, fighting on one hand to preserve a brand as the Painter of Light, while he fought to the death his own demons on the other. These seemingly gentle images came to exert a claustrophobic spiritual pressure on him that rivaled anything that Munch, Picasso, or any other modern artist has produced. It is a pressure that, as Luther observed in his commentary on Jonah, “makes the world too narrow” so narrow that “a sound of a driven leaf shall frighten them” (Lev. 26: 26)–a driven leaf or a Kinkade print. . . .

He became a prisoner of a pre-Fall fantasy world that by refusing him creative space to work through his life’s difficulties, destroyed him, over and over, to which he finally succumbed. . . .

Christ also frees our work, including our art and culture making, liberating it to glorify God and serve our neighbor, rather than means for our salvation or justification, as metaphysical transactional leverage. In captivity, “the world becomes too narrow for us.” Christ opens up the world, the world of experience, action, making. He does so because, as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians, “all things were created through him and for him” and “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1: 15; 17). And that includes Kinkade’s work, even if he was unable to reconcile the creative work of his hands to his daily struggle as a Christian. In Living by Faith:  Justification and Sanctification (2003), Oswald Bayer writes,

“Justification comes when God himself enters the deadly dispute of ‘justifications,’ suffers from it, carries it out in himself. He does this through the death of his Son, which is also God’s own death. In this way God takes the dispute into himself and overcomes it on our behalf.”

Kinkade and his work engaged in a deadly dispute over justification, which he lost. But the final word on Thomas Kinkade is not his work’s. Nor is it mine. It is God’s, who offers the final Word of liberation and freedom. The next time I notice a Kinkade print in an office or a home, I will now see it next to the icon of the resurrection, reminding me that Christ is at work reconciling “all things” to himself, and second, I will give thanks that the work of my own hands, which in its own way deceives and distorts, judges and condemns me, narrowing my own world, will receive God’s final Word as well.

via The Final Word on Thomas Kinkade.

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.

  • Dan Kempin

    I am not going to wade in on art criticism, and I am willing to concede the theological point, (though if pushed, I would argue that longing for the pre-fall world is no more Christ-less and dangerous than longing for paradise.)

    I am curious, though, did Daniel Siedell KNOW Thomas Kinkade, or was this in depth evaluation of his life a construct of criticizing his art and theology? It seems rather intimate to say that “his work killed him” and that “His emotional life found no creative release in and through his studio work.” Does he have a basis to know that “these seemingly gentle images came to exert a claustrophobic spiritual pressure on him,” or does he just imagine that must have been the case? Perhaps these things are documented and known of Kinkade, (I really don’t know). Or is this just Siedell’s conclusion from analyzing his art?

  • Dan Kempin

    I am not going to wade in on art criticism, and I am willing to concede the theological point, (though if pushed, I would argue that longing for the pre-fall world is no more Christ-less and dangerous than longing for paradise.)

    I am curious, though, did Daniel Siedell KNOW Thomas Kinkade, or was this in depth evaluation of his life a construct of criticizing his art and theology? It seems rather intimate to say that “his work killed him” and that “His emotional life found no creative release in and through his studio work.” Does he have a basis to know that “these seemingly gentle images came to exert a claustrophobic spiritual pressure on him,” or does he just imagine that must have been the case? Perhaps these things are documented and known of Kinkade, (I really don’t know). Or is this just Siedell’s conclusion from analyzing his art?

  • larry

    Dan,

    I think this might help frame the thought they are getting at; we should not even desire heaven without Christ as we should not desire earth’s pleasures either. As the hymn writes, “Not for earth’s vain joys I crave, Nor, without Him, heaven’s pleasure.”

    S. Becker clarifies: “To be with Jesus our Savior through all eternity is the fondest hope of the child of God and the realization of this truth guards us against a Mohammedan view of heaven which lays stress particularly on the enjoyment of the same sort of material pleasures in which men rejoice on this earth, complete with feasting and dancing girls.”

    Does that help?

  • larry

    Dan,

    I think this might help frame the thought they are getting at; we should not even desire heaven without Christ as we should not desire earth’s pleasures either. As the hymn writes, “Not for earth’s vain joys I crave, Nor, without Him, heaven’s pleasure.”

    S. Becker clarifies: “To be with Jesus our Savior through all eternity is the fondest hope of the child of God and the realization of this truth guards us against a Mohammedan view of heaven which lays stress particularly on the enjoyment of the same sort of material pleasures in which men rejoice on this earth, complete with feasting and dancing girls.”

    Does that help?

  • Tom Hering

    I can’t help but think of the sort of writings I run across as a film fan, where the “oeuvre” of some B movie director from the 1950s is given deep meaning by critics and film students, and the reputation of the director grows as a result. Eventually, said director is tracked down and interviewed, and he says, “Look, it was just a job. We cranked ‘em out in ten days or less. We thought they’d be in theaters for a week or two, and that would be the last the world would ever see of them.” Then the critics and film students all discuss how the demons of an artist drive him to greatness in spite of himself. Sheesh. This is what you get when you take pop culture seriously.

  • Tom Hering

    I can’t help but think of the sort of writings I run across as a film fan, where the “oeuvre” of some B movie director from the 1950s is given deep meaning by critics and film students, and the reputation of the director grows as a result. Eventually, said director is tracked down and interviewed, and he says, “Look, it was just a job. We cranked ‘em out in ten days or less. We thought they’d be in theaters for a week or two, and that would be the last the world would ever see of them.” Then the critics and film students all discuss how the demons of an artist drive him to greatness in spite of himself. Sheesh. This is what you get when you take pop culture seriously.

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #2,

    To say “desire heaven without Christ” is an oxymoron to me. I understand the point, of course, but Jesus himself, (the source of all artistic genius, along with all things), said to the thief on the cross not only, “today you will be with me,” but “today you will be with me in paradise.”

    Paradise means garden. So, no, since Jesus uses the image of the garden to communicate the hope of our eternal salvation, I don’t think it is inherently Christ-less to consider.

    But that was not my question. I get the point. I was wondering about the very personal exposition of Kinkade’s life and inner struggle. Is Siedell just expostulating here, (like a first year seminarian who preaches about how miserable is the heart of every unbeliever), or were these statements about Kinkade’s struggle already known?

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #2,

    To say “desire heaven without Christ” is an oxymoron to me. I understand the point, of course, but Jesus himself, (the source of all artistic genius, along with all things), said to the thief on the cross not only, “today you will be with me,” but “today you will be with me in paradise.”

    Paradise means garden. So, no, since Jesus uses the image of the garden to communicate the hope of our eternal salvation, I don’t think it is inherently Christ-less to consider.

    But that was not my question. I get the point. I was wondering about the very personal exposition of Kinkade’s life and inner struggle. Is Siedell just expostulating here, (like a first year seminarian who preaches about how miserable is the heart of every unbeliever), or were these statements about Kinkade’s struggle already known?

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Dan @1 raises very a good point. If Seibell is going to make a medical determination of Kinkade’s cause of death or a psychological diagnosis, he might offer up maybe a shred of credible evidence for it from Kinkade’s life. Is there anything other than philosophical speculation to suggest the existence of this pressure Kinkade felt to live up to his paintings?

    I have nothing to say about Kinkade’s merit as an artist (or lack thereof). I will say, however, that in these last two posts, Seidell is engaging in rank theological pietism. Kinkade’s work is breaking no law of God–just an ironic law Seidell himself makes up about how art must be done in light of the Gospel.

    More of my comments on this here.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Dan @1 raises very a good point. If Seibell is going to make a medical determination of Kinkade’s cause of death or a psychological diagnosis, he might offer up maybe a shred of credible evidence for it from Kinkade’s life. Is there anything other than philosophical speculation to suggest the existence of this pressure Kinkade felt to live up to his paintings?

    I have nothing to say about Kinkade’s merit as an artist (or lack thereof). I will say, however, that in these last two posts, Seidell is engaging in rank theological pietism. Kinkade’s work is breaking no law of God–just an ironic law Seidell himself makes up about how art must be done in light of the Gospel.

    More of my comments on this here.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 1 and 4. You raise a difficult point (seconded by Tom @ 3). How much can we read into an artist’s body of work in regards to the tortures and struggles of their soul? Absent some collection of personal writings from the artists reflecting on their art, their artistic intent at different times, or their own attempts to assess their work, or a collection of actual works of art that provide a counter-example to the prevailing public perception of an artist, we are left with speculation and conjecture. So often, that speculation and conjecture turns into a psychoanalytical profile that may or many not conform to the reality of the artist. I’ll note that this is also prevalent in historical biography and not just art criticism.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 1 and 4. You raise a difficult point (seconded by Tom @ 3). How much can we read into an artist’s body of work in regards to the tortures and struggles of their soul? Absent some collection of personal writings from the artists reflecting on their art, their artistic intent at different times, or their own attempts to assess their work, or a collection of actual works of art that provide a counter-example to the prevailing public perception of an artist, we are left with speculation and conjecture. So often, that speculation and conjecture turns into a psychoanalytical profile that may or many not conform to the reality of the artist. I’ll note that this is also prevalent in historical biography and not just art criticism.

  • larry

    Dan,

    I think you are taking my clarification a bit too personal, I was only attempting to illuminate the point being made. In fact by saying “To say “desire heaven without Christ” is an oxymoron to me”, you assume that Christ and heaven are the thought conveyed which you state such is an oxymoron. Note that even in your example of Christ’s words on the Cross to the thief, you reference as an “image of a garden” and thus it is fine to do this. But note well that Christ’s Words say “today you will be WITH ME in paradise”. So the overriding reality is not “paradise” but “with Me (Christ)”. Christ is not directing the thief to imagine a garden to give him hope, but that he will be with the Son of God and see His face directly (a point clearly made in the book of Revelation over and over again).

    Second, your assumption “…desire heaven without Christ is an oxymoron to me” is not true, hence Becker’s point about Islam’s concept of heaven. It IS an oxymoron in reality and truth, granted, but that does not mean men cannot divorce the two and present a Christless paradise/heaven even under the guise of “christian” (hence the hymn writers point and Becker’s example). In other words it is not oxymoron that fallen man in his vanity can imagine a Christless paradise or Christless heaven, in fact all pagan religions and pseudo Christian doctrines explicitly or implicitly do this by their very definition. Which is the larger point Siedell is making regarding Kinkade painting pictures referencing “here and now” images (which are post fallen by reality) and putting them into the ‘light’ of an imagined pre-fallen condition. To impose upon things that are and captured as image into an imagined “pre-fallen” condition, is by definition Christless, for Christ that is actually Christ (as the name explicates) is the One Who suffered and died for sinners post-fall. So, nothing that exists today captured into image can be imagined to be “pre-fallen” without removing Jesus (name meaning = ‘He will save His people from their sins’…i.e. post-fallen). Keep in mind his works are labeled “Christian” but if they are “pre-fallen” imaginations imprinted upon things fallen (the images), then they cannot be.

    As to your second question, that’s a good question, does he know that drove Kinkad’s depression or is he making the connection?

  • larry

    Dan,

    I think you are taking my clarification a bit too personal, I was only attempting to illuminate the point being made. In fact by saying “To say “desire heaven without Christ” is an oxymoron to me”, you assume that Christ and heaven are the thought conveyed which you state such is an oxymoron. Note that even in your example of Christ’s words on the Cross to the thief, you reference as an “image of a garden” and thus it is fine to do this. But note well that Christ’s Words say “today you will be WITH ME in paradise”. So the overriding reality is not “paradise” but “with Me (Christ)”. Christ is not directing the thief to imagine a garden to give him hope, but that he will be with the Son of God and see His face directly (a point clearly made in the book of Revelation over and over again).

    Second, your assumption “…desire heaven without Christ is an oxymoron to me” is not true, hence Becker’s point about Islam’s concept of heaven. It IS an oxymoron in reality and truth, granted, but that does not mean men cannot divorce the two and present a Christless paradise/heaven even under the guise of “christian” (hence the hymn writers point and Becker’s example). In other words it is not oxymoron that fallen man in his vanity can imagine a Christless paradise or Christless heaven, in fact all pagan religions and pseudo Christian doctrines explicitly or implicitly do this by their very definition. Which is the larger point Siedell is making regarding Kinkade painting pictures referencing “here and now” images (which are post fallen by reality) and putting them into the ‘light’ of an imagined pre-fallen condition. To impose upon things that are and captured as image into an imagined “pre-fallen” condition, is by definition Christless, for Christ that is actually Christ (as the name explicates) is the One Who suffered and died for sinners post-fall. So, nothing that exists today captured into image can be imagined to be “pre-fallen” without removing Jesus (name meaning = ‘He will save His people from their sins’…i.e. post-fallen). Keep in mind his works are labeled “Christian” but if they are “pre-fallen” imaginations imprinted upon things fallen (the images), then they cannot be.

    As to your second question, that’s a good question, does he know that drove Kinkad’s depression or is he making the connection?

  • Gary

    This author definitely creates an imaginative scenario in which he paints Kinkade in the worst light. I feel icky after reading his worst-construction of Kinkade’s motivation. Must shower.

  • Gary

    This author definitely creates an imaginative scenario in which he paints Kinkade in the worst light. I feel icky after reading his worst-construction of Kinkade’s motivation. Must shower.

  • larry

    Tom,

    I would concur with your point if TK had stated, “Look, it was just a job. We cranked ‘em out in ten days or less. We thought they’d be in theaters for a week or two, and that would be the last the world would ever see of them.” But TK said, “My mission as an artist is to capture those special moments in life adorned with beauty and light. I work to create images that project a serene simplicity that can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. That’s what I mean by sharing the light.”
    Thus, by his own words it was not “just a job” but a “mission” and at least by his own self consideration not “pop art” but as an “artist”. Now one may argue the quality is pop art, but it hardly seems that TK intended his art as an artist to be along the lines of Brittney Spears.

  • larry

    Tom,

    I would concur with your point if TK had stated, “Look, it was just a job. We cranked ‘em out in ten days or less. We thought they’d be in theaters for a week or two, and that would be the last the world would ever see of them.” But TK said, “My mission as an artist is to capture those special moments in life adorned with beauty and light. I work to create images that project a serene simplicity that can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. That’s what I mean by sharing the light.”
    Thus, by his own words it was not “just a job” but a “mission” and at least by his own self consideration not “pop art” but as an “artist”. Now one may argue the quality is pop art, but it hardly seems that TK intended his art as an artist to be along the lines of Brittney Spears.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    We know that Kinkade, for all of his sunny optimism in his art, died of drug and alcohol abuse. That’s a contradiction. Most artists express any torment they have in their art. Kinkade didn’t. That’s unusual and worth noting.

    In this post from Daniel Siedell he is making connections to legalism. People often hold themselves to ideals that, in reality, they can not live up to. Christ, though, through the Gospel, frees us from all of that. And He offers freedom to the artist. At the end of his commentary, Siedell returns to Kinkade, who did profess Christianity, affirming that his brokenness is indeed taken care of by the risen Christ. He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.

    If you aren’t getting that point of the whole article from this excerpt, click the link and read the whole thing.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    We know that Kinkade, for all of his sunny optimism in his art, died of drug and alcohol abuse. That’s a contradiction. Most artists express any torment they have in their art. Kinkade didn’t. That’s unusual and worth noting.

    In this post from Daniel Siedell he is making connections to legalism. People often hold themselves to ideals that, in reality, they can not live up to. Christ, though, through the Gospel, frees us from all of that. And He offers freedom to the artist. At the end of his commentary, Siedell returns to Kinkade, who did profess Christianity, affirming that his brokenness is indeed taken care of by the risen Christ. He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.

    If you aren’t getting that point of the whole article from this excerpt, click the link and read the whole thing.

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

    From all I’ve seen of Kinkade’s work, and all I’ve read of his (tragic) life and death, Siedell’s thesis seems credible to me. But it also strikes me as pretty darn judgmental. I remain no fan of Kinkade, but this seems to me excessive.

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

    From all I’ve seen of Kinkade’s work, and all I’ve read of his (tragic) life and death, Siedell’s thesis seems credible to me. But it also strikes me as pretty darn judgmental. I remain no fan of Kinkade, but this seems to me excessive.

  • larry

    It appears that Siedell is being judgmental but its really rich theology of the cross stuff and Dr. Vieth nailed it by restating the end of his piece; “At the end of his commentary, Siedell returns to Kinkade, who did profess Christianity, affirming that his brokenness is indeed taken care of by the risen Christ. He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.”
    To the theologian of glory (in all of us) Siedell does appear overly negative, but in reality it gives the real hope by the contrast of the false hope (what we are “hearing as negative). The whole of the article is mimicking what Luther said in thesis 20, “he deserves to be called a theologian (theologian of the cross), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.”
    What we are seeing as a “negative and judgmental” thing is really a good thing when comprehended where it comes to his conclusion as Dr. Vieth put it, “He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.” I.e. “I put on a good show to, but inwardly find myself tormented that I find I cannot live up to my show, in reality…” Some may manifest this compensation of the reality over the façade in a life-long struggle with alcohol, drugs, food, sex or other things BUT at last “…we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.”
    Seen in that light, TOC, this article is deeply rich in hope for Kinkade and ourselves.

  • larry

    It appears that Siedell is being judgmental but its really rich theology of the cross stuff and Dr. Vieth nailed it by restating the end of his piece; “At the end of his commentary, Siedell returns to Kinkade, who did profess Christianity, affirming that his brokenness is indeed taken care of by the risen Christ. He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.”
    To the theologian of glory (in all of us) Siedell does appear overly negative, but in reality it gives the real hope by the contrast of the false hope (what we are “hearing as negative). The whole of the article is mimicking what Luther said in thesis 20, “he deserves to be called a theologian (theologian of the cross), however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.”
    What we are seeing as a “negative and judgmental” thing is really a good thing when comprehended where it comes to his conclusion as Dr. Vieth put it, “He says that we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.” I.e. “I put on a good show to, but inwardly find myself tormented that I find I cannot live up to my show, in reality…” Some may manifest this compensation of the reality over the façade in a life-long struggle with alcohol, drugs, food, sex or other things BUT at last “…we all are like Kinkade in many of these respects and that Kinkade has finally entered the rest of His Savior.”
    Seen in that light, TOC, this article is deeply rich in hope for Kinkade and ourselves.

  • #4 Kitty

    His emotional life found no creative release in and through his studio work. As he, like each of us, experienced the ebb and flow of life, the challenges, tragedies, and the struggle with personal demons, he was forced (condemned) to produce the same, innocuously nostalgic pictures again and again,…

    Oh, so in other words he had a regular job.

  • #4 Kitty

    His emotional life found no creative release in and through his studio work. As he, like each of us, experienced the ebb and flow of life, the challenges, tragedies, and the struggle with personal demons, he was forced (condemned) to produce the same, innocuously nostalgic pictures again and again,…

    Oh, so in other words he had a regular job.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #10,

    “Most artists express any torment they have in their art.”

    That is an interesting thesis in itself. Is that true?

    Was it true for Beethoven? Mozart?

    I don’t really know enough about the history of art to comment intelligently, but is it true of Michalangelo? Da Vinci? Cranach?

    I guess I’ve never really thought of it in that light. It certainly seems to be the case in contemporary art, though I wonder if that is due to an expectation or an essential of artistic expression.

    You put your finger on it, though, that the lack of struggle in Kinkade’s work is what seems to galvanize people in response.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #10,

    “Most artists express any torment they have in their art.”

    That is an interesting thesis in itself. Is that true?

    Was it true for Beethoven? Mozart?

    I don’t really know enough about the history of art to comment intelligently, but is it true of Michalangelo? Da Vinci? Cranach?

    I guess I’ve never really thought of it in that light. It certainly seems to be the case in contemporary art, though I wonder if that is due to an expectation or an essential of artistic expression.

    You put your finger on it, though, that the lack of struggle in Kinkade’s work is what seems to galvanize people in response.

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #7,

    There’s nothing personal in my response, and I already said that I get and concede the point. I’m just not convinced that the point can really be demonstrated by looking at Kinkade’s paintings.

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #7,

    There’s nothing personal in my response, and I already said that I get and concede the point. I’m just not convinced that the point can really be demonstrated by looking at Kinkade’s paintings.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Maybe the poor guy just longed for a better world, wether it was ‘pre-fall’ or in the new heavens and earth, and it helped him to visualize it over and over again. In a way, we all do the same thing.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Maybe the poor guy just longed for a better world, wether it was ‘pre-fall’ or in the new heavens and earth, and it helped him to visualize it over and over again. In a way, we all do the same thing.

  • Dan Kempin
  • Dan Kempin
  • DonS

    Wow! Last week, I though Siedell was merely a loutish boor. Now I think he had some kind of visceral personal hatred of Kinkade for some reason. Leave the man alone — let him rest in peace. There is something obscene about taking the tragic circumstances of a clearly tormented man’s death and using them to make some kind of name for yourself, trying to garner attention at the expense of the man and his family. Unless Siedell knew Kinkade personally, and has some factual basis for the suppositions he is making, he is in no position to make the judgments oozing from this article. Lutherans die tortured deaths at times, as well. We live in a fallen world, and many of us struggle with demons, despite our faith. To attribute a man’s death to his theology, rather than his demons, without basis other than your own desire to score doctrinal points, is pathetic.

  • DonS

    Wow! Last week, I though Siedell was merely a loutish boor. Now I think he had some kind of visceral personal hatred of Kinkade for some reason. Leave the man alone — let him rest in peace. There is something obscene about taking the tragic circumstances of a clearly tormented man’s death and using them to make some kind of name for yourself, trying to garner attention at the expense of the man and his family. Unless Siedell knew Kinkade personally, and has some factual basis for the suppositions he is making, he is in no position to make the judgments oozing from this article. Lutherans die tortured deaths at times, as well. We live in a fallen world, and many of us struggle with demons, despite our faith. To attribute a man’s death to his theology, rather than his demons, without basis other than your own desire to score doctrinal points, is pathetic.

  • Grace

    I agree with DonS.

  • Grace

    I agree with DonS.

  • Joanne

    Sounds bi-polar, like so many artists. He painted in his manic state and boozed in his depressive state.

    And, in following Luther’s thinking on self-destruction, I’d lay the major blame on Satan, who thrives on mental illness. Satan is a murderer who steals our lives and our souls if he can. However, it is a great satisfaction to Christians, to see Satan lose a soul he obviously spent 50 years trying to get through destroying a man’s mind/brain.

    So the comparison is so apt between the sinner on the cross next to Jesus whom Satan had securely in his basket just waiting for the fruit to fall, only to have our dear Christ snatch him away at the very last moment.

    I think Jesus might enjoy us calling that “twisting Satan’s tail.”

    As far as paradise without Jesus, no way. It was Jesus who walked in the garden and spoke with Adam and Eve. He made the animal skin clothing for them after the fall. Jesus is the only way to the father and always has been whether in the past earthly paradise or in the new world paradise.

    I see this though. A person who is “in love” cannot be happy apart from his love, not even in a paradisacal setting. All he thinks about is going back and being with his loved one. When the loved one is his loving shepherd who is bringing him into a paradise, all he knows is that it’s a nice place to be with his great amor.

    However, if Jesus were to leave paradise, his loving children would yearn to be with him wherever he goes because of the common need of love to be close to the loved one. It’s just that simple. All of paradise would yearn to go with it’s creator lover.

    “Jesus lover of my soul,
    Let me to Thy bosom fly.”

  • Joanne

    Sounds bi-polar, like so many artists. He painted in his manic state and boozed in his depressive state.

    And, in following Luther’s thinking on self-destruction, I’d lay the major blame on Satan, who thrives on mental illness. Satan is a murderer who steals our lives and our souls if he can. However, it is a great satisfaction to Christians, to see Satan lose a soul he obviously spent 50 years trying to get through destroying a man’s mind/brain.

    So the comparison is so apt between the sinner on the cross next to Jesus whom Satan had securely in his basket just waiting for the fruit to fall, only to have our dear Christ snatch him away at the very last moment.

    I think Jesus might enjoy us calling that “twisting Satan’s tail.”

    As far as paradise without Jesus, no way. It was Jesus who walked in the garden and spoke with Adam and Eve. He made the animal skin clothing for them after the fall. Jesus is the only way to the father and always has been whether in the past earthly paradise or in the new world paradise.

    I see this though. A person who is “in love” cannot be happy apart from his love, not even in a paradisacal setting. All he thinks about is going back and being with his loved one. When the loved one is his loving shepherd who is bringing him into a paradise, all he knows is that it’s a nice place to be with his great amor.

    However, if Jesus were to leave paradise, his loving children would yearn to be with him wherever he goes because of the common need of love to be close to the loved one. It’s just that simple. All of paradise would yearn to go with it’s creator lover.

    “Jesus lover of my soul,
    Let me to Thy bosom fly.”

  • BS in Texas

    Damn, I just liked looking at his paintings. I thought they were, well, pretty. Never saw them as “Christian art”, and never thought I was imagining a pre-fallen world when I looked at them… I just marveled at the man’s incredible talent. It’s sad to think that this guy was so tormented, having been given such a wonderful talent and capacity to create beauty.

    Didn’t have to be that way…

  • BS in Texas

    Damn, I just liked looking at his paintings. I thought they were, well, pretty. Never saw them as “Christian art”, and never thought I was imagining a pre-fallen world when I looked at them… I just marveled at the man’s incredible talent. It’s sad to think that this guy was so tormented, having been given such a wonderful talent and capacity to create beauty.

    Didn’t have to be that way…

  • Barry Bishop

    Ok, I read the original post on Thomas Kinkaid’s “dangerous” pre-Fall art and now this one.
    I still don’t see how imagining a paradise or ideal world is dangerous. Should an artist not strive for beauty, creativity, imagination? Surely, there is a place for artists to do this as image-bearers of a Creator without falling into idolatry. I thought Daniel Siedel totally missed the mark on this one. Consider
    Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
    The fact that we thirst points to a real need for water. The same with hunger and food. God has put eternity in our hearts and we long for that reality. We may live in a Fallen world but we realize that all is not as it should be. We long for redemption, justice, salvation, paradise. These longings in our heart point to a real need we have. Why can’t art point to that reality, too? Why can’t art point us to a need for Jesus? There is a place for dour Christianity and repentance but why not also the new creation, new birth, new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem, the resurrection, the kingdom of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ?

  • Barry Bishop

    Ok, I read the original post on Thomas Kinkaid’s “dangerous” pre-Fall art and now this one.
    I still don’t see how imagining a paradise or ideal world is dangerous. Should an artist not strive for beauty, creativity, imagination? Surely, there is a place for artists to do this as image-bearers of a Creator without falling into idolatry. I thought Daniel Siedel totally missed the mark on this one. Consider
    Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
    The fact that we thirst points to a real need for water. The same with hunger and food. God has put eternity in our hearts and we long for that reality. We may live in a Fallen world but we realize that all is not as it should be. We long for redemption, justice, salvation, paradise. These longings in our heart point to a real need we have. Why can’t art point to that reality, too? Why can’t art point us to a need for Jesus? There is a place for dour Christianity and repentance but why not also the new creation, new birth, new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem, the resurrection, the kingdom of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ?

  • Stephen

    I think that ever since Van Gogh, of whom we know a bit from his letters to his brother Theo, art critics have glommed on to the idea of the tortured artist. They then try to exegete from the work a lot of speculative stuff about the artist who made it. I think that is what this writer is doing without, it would seem, anything more than his own surmise.

    I don’ t think it is true that most artists express “any torment they have ” in their art per se. I like #4 Kitty’s tongue in cheek. It is work. Work can suck and it can be rewarding. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. Bach wrote enormously beautiful stuff not just because he was a genius but because it was his job. Sometimes, maybe even often, artists are “expressing” what either the patron (Kinkaide’s customers?) or the piece itself (like a great musician playing music they did not compose) demands. And many of the innovations they develop and that everyone marvels at are formal or technical and haven’t got all that much to do with their personal torment. That is a mythology only partly derived from the reality that a lot of artists have messed up lives. In Kincaide’s case, I’d be just as willing to believe it his tragic demise came from that fact that he had an inability to handle celebrity, wealth and the personal license those things bring rather than his devotion to making crappy art.

    Regardless of how he wraps this essay up with a nice theological bow, isn’t the underlying premise here that somehow his art could have spared him? He wasn’t honest enough perhaps? Self-deceived? And if he had figured all that out, things would not have turned out so badly. I hear a Christ-less argument there too. He could have saved himself if only his art was more . . . No, it doesn’t work like that.

    This all falls flat for me because plenty of artists, even recently, have expressed all kinds of emotional/psychological/interpersonal torment as honestly and beautifully as anyone could (Amy Winehouse) and yet they still died in their own vomit before they reached 30. It didn’t help them too much. I see crumby, empty art (skillfully done mind you) around me all the time, even in churches (imagine that) and I really doubt making it had the same effect he is claiming here. I think this writer is just plain romanticizing. While it is perhaps true that artists as a class suffer from more afflictions and torments (who really knows), if anything, it is the simple act of trying to make art of any kind and have it received that exacerbates those problems.

    I also think, like Don, that it is cruel to assess someone’s life in this way. I had no love for GW Bush, but it always bothered me when pundits and radio hosts would speculate about his alcoholism and label him with all kinds of psychological terms. Those terms and diagnosis are not created to label and stigmatize people, they are created to help them. For the same reason, I have to turn off this accident gazing experiment. It feels too voyeuristic, and perhaps too close in time. It’s weirder still because he is trying to make a theological point at this man’s expense.

    But I will admit that it is interesting to try and figure out the mind of people one is perplexed or fascinated by. In this case, like others here have said, I have to ask “where’s the evidence?” Did Whitney Houston die of pop music? Is it in Kinkaide’s pictures? Well . . . they may stink and be a complete hoax on buyers, but it seems this writer is trying to read them as evidence of his special sin. Certainly they are a record of something – bad popular taste, the legacy of consumerism in art, stuff like that maybe, along with his hand and eye skills. And I suspect he’ll actually get a retrospective some day at a respectable museum out of either a weird fascination with the man and/or to understand our time. It seems to me that we are fascinated with personality in this country sometimes to the detriment of all kinds of things.

    And while I agree that the gospel frees all of us to live out our vocation, when it comes to art, the church has a very narrow scope of what it will tolerate. Tom Hering said something on here once that captured it in a nutshell. The church’s relation to art is all about what is already settled (I’m remembering it right in spirit anyway). Once about a few years had past since the Beatles arrived it then became okay to have guitars. It took nuns. Think about that for a second. Only sexless beings who could not possibly offend anyone got guitars in the door and made it popular. The church likes things that are sanitized – tried and true – before it will dare employ them. It is not the arena for creativity, innovation or invention – all things art and artists need if they are to make the kind of work that this writer is pining away for as he tries to make his obscure point.

    I think that in general art should be judged on two things – formal criteria and how it is situated in the history of a society. Leave out the intention of the artist, which is a bottomless pit. Unless it is in some way overtly delineated or recorded by the artist or someone who knew him or studied with him, making that connection is speculative mythologizing.

  • Stephen

    I think that ever since Van Gogh, of whom we know a bit from his letters to his brother Theo, art critics have glommed on to the idea of the tortured artist. They then try to exegete from the work a lot of speculative stuff about the artist who made it. I think that is what this writer is doing without, it would seem, anything more than his own surmise.

    I don’ t think it is true that most artists express “any torment they have ” in their art per se. I like #4 Kitty’s tongue in cheek. It is work. Work can suck and it can be rewarding. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. Bach wrote enormously beautiful stuff not just because he was a genius but because it was his job. Sometimes, maybe even often, artists are “expressing” what either the patron (Kinkaide’s customers?) or the piece itself (like a great musician playing music they did not compose) demands. And many of the innovations they develop and that everyone marvels at are formal or technical and haven’t got all that much to do with their personal torment. That is a mythology only partly derived from the reality that a lot of artists have messed up lives. In Kincaide’s case, I’d be just as willing to believe it his tragic demise came from that fact that he had an inability to handle celebrity, wealth and the personal license those things bring rather than his devotion to making crappy art.

    Regardless of how he wraps this essay up with a nice theological bow, isn’t the underlying premise here that somehow his art could have spared him? He wasn’t honest enough perhaps? Self-deceived? And if he had figured all that out, things would not have turned out so badly. I hear a Christ-less argument there too. He could have saved himself if only his art was more . . . No, it doesn’t work like that.

    This all falls flat for me because plenty of artists, even recently, have expressed all kinds of emotional/psychological/interpersonal torment as honestly and beautifully as anyone could (Amy Winehouse) and yet they still died in their own vomit before they reached 30. It didn’t help them too much. I see crumby, empty art (skillfully done mind you) around me all the time, even in churches (imagine that) and I really doubt making it had the same effect he is claiming here. I think this writer is just plain romanticizing. While it is perhaps true that artists as a class suffer from more afflictions and torments (who really knows), if anything, it is the simple act of trying to make art of any kind and have it received that exacerbates those problems.

    I also think, like Don, that it is cruel to assess someone’s life in this way. I had no love for GW Bush, but it always bothered me when pundits and radio hosts would speculate about his alcoholism and label him with all kinds of psychological terms. Those terms and diagnosis are not created to label and stigmatize people, they are created to help them. For the same reason, I have to turn off this accident gazing experiment. It feels too voyeuristic, and perhaps too close in time. It’s weirder still because he is trying to make a theological point at this man’s expense.

    But I will admit that it is interesting to try and figure out the mind of people one is perplexed or fascinated by. In this case, like others here have said, I have to ask “where’s the evidence?” Did Whitney Houston die of pop music? Is it in Kinkaide’s pictures? Well . . . they may stink and be a complete hoax on buyers, but it seems this writer is trying to read them as evidence of his special sin. Certainly they are a record of something – bad popular taste, the legacy of consumerism in art, stuff like that maybe, along with his hand and eye skills. And I suspect he’ll actually get a retrospective some day at a respectable museum out of either a weird fascination with the man and/or to understand our time. It seems to me that we are fascinated with personality in this country sometimes to the detriment of all kinds of things.

    And while I agree that the gospel frees all of us to live out our vocation, when it comes to art, the church has a very narrow scope of what it will tolerate. Tom Hering said something on here once that captured it in a nutshell. The church’s relation to art is all about what is already settled (I’m remembering it right in spirit anyway). Once about a few years had past since the Beatles arrived it then became okay to have guitars. It took nuns. Think about that for a second. Only sexless beings who could not possibly offend anyone got guitars in the door and made it popular. The church likes things that are sanitized – tried and true – before it will dare employ them. It is not the arena for creativity, innovation or invention – all things art and artists need if they are to make the kind of work that this writer is pining away for as he tries to make his obscure point.

    I think that in general art should be judged on two things – formal criteria and how it is situated in the history of a society. Leave out the intention of the artist, which is a bottomless pit. Unless it is in some way overtly delineated or recorded by the artist or someone who knew him or studied with him, making that connection is speculative mythologizing.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #23,

    “This all falls flat for me because plenty of artists, even recently, have expressed all kinds of emotional/psychological/interpersonal torment as honestly and beautifully as anyone could (Amy Winehouse) and yet they still died in their own vomit before they reached 30. It didn’t help them too much.”

    Not only that, but it is glorified. We have touched on that here before.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #23,

    “This all falls flat for me because plenty of artists, even recently, have expressed all kinds of emotional/psychological/interpersonal torment as honestly and beautifully as anyone could (Amy Winehouse) and yet they still died in their own vomit before they reached 30. It didn’t help them too much.”

    Not only that, but it is glorified. We have touched on that here before.

  • Reed

    Why are we talking about this again? This post looks like “open can of Mountain Dew, put on picnic table, wait for swarm of yellow jackets.”

    Goodbye Cranach.

  • Reed

    Why are we talking about this again? This post looks like “open can of Mountain Dew, put on picnic table, wait for swarm of yellow jackets.”

    Goodbye Cranach.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Is Sidell an artist – himself?

    Kinkaide – used to paint here in Solvange-CA and was well thought of—
    His peace-filled works of churches and community brought joy to many-
    His work is not of my favorite type – however- as a artist myself- I find the judgmental aspect of Sidell’s ‘take’ offensive–

    As to artists and the Church- it took artists to expose the hidden debauchery of the Church leaders-
    Goya and Michelangelo come to mind —
    and I am not talking of just the Roman Catholic Church- the LCMC has some ‘stuff’ going on that is costing LOTS of money in legal bills –
    So- judgement should be reserved to –God–HUH!
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Is Sidell an artist – himself?

    Kinkaide – used to paint here in Solvange-CA and was well thought of—
    His peace-filled works of churches and community brought joy to many-
    His work is not of my favorite type – however- as a artist myself- I find the judgmental aspect of Sidell’s ‘take’ offensive–

    As to artists and the Church- it took artists to expose the hidden debauchery of the Church leaders-
    Goya and Michelangelo come to mind —
    and I am not talking of just the Roman Catholic Church- the LCMC has some ‘stuff’ going on that is costing LOTS of money in legal bills –
    So- judgement should be reserved to –God–HUH!
    Carol-CS

  • Grace

    C-Christian Soldier @ 26

    YOU WROTE: “however- as a artist myself- I find the judgmental aspect of Sidell’s ‘take’ offensive–”

    I couldn’t agree with you more -

  • Grace

    C-Christian Soldier @ 26

    YOU WROTE: “however- as a artist myself- I find the judgmental aspect of Sidell’s ‘take’ offensive–”

    I couldn’t agree with you more -

  • Abby

    I was particularly drawn to Kinkade paintings (lighthouses and the sea) when I was under deep stress and depression. I don’t know why. But I saw and felt Jesus in the paintings. And they gave me comfort. I have 3 of his paintings. The saying is “a picture is worth a 1000 words.” I really can’t explain my attraction to my pictures. But it was definately spiritual. And definately NOT on the dark side. I did not know that much about Kinkade as a person. I’m not saying I think he was a great artist. I only knew he was a Christian. But, again, I had a strong attraction to my particular paintings that filled me with hope in Christ.

    As a person who suffers from depression I can understand the dicotomy of dealing with that but at the same time being a Christian. It is not easy. The Lord can remind us of Himself anywhere and anyhow He wants to. And I am grateful for signs of Him that He has given me through my life. I was very sad when Thomas died, especially when I heard the reasons. But it doesn’t take away my joy. When I look at my pictures they make me smile. To me, that means something.

  • Abby

    I was particularly drawn to Kinkade paintings (lighthouses and the sea) when I was under deep stress and depression. I don’t know why. But I saw and felt Jesus in the paintings. And they gave me comfort. I have 3 of his paintings. The saying is “a picture is worth a 1000 words.” I really can’t explain my attraction to my pictures. But it was definately spiritual. And definately NOT on the dark side. I did not know that much about Kinkade as a person. I’m not saying I think he was a great artist. I only knew he was a Christian. But, again, I had a strong attraction to my particular paintings that filled me with hope in Christ.

    As a person who suffers from depression I can understand the dicotomy of dealing with that but at the same time being a Christian. It is not easy. The Lord can remind us of Himself anywhere and anyhow He wants to. And I am grateful for signs of Him that He has given me through my life. I was very sad when Thomas died, especially when I heard the reasons. But it doesn’t take away my joy. When I look at my pictures they make me smile. To me, that means something.

  • Grace

    C-Christian Soldier and Abby,

    After reading your posts over several times – it appears to me, very clearly, that both of you are far more stable than anyone who has tried to discredit an artist such as Thomas Kinkade.

    The artist (Kinkade) is one who brought/brings light, and joy to most all who gaze upon his paintings. There is no darkness in his work, which makes it special.

    It is obvious, that many who envy this mans talent, are consumed with his success – WHY? – Kinkade didn’t bring anything but joy and peace. The world loves distortion, we see it in the ‘headlines’ everyday. Kindade stays true to his vison, that of peace and joy.

    Blessings to both you ladies.

  • Grace

    C-Christian Soldier and Abby,

    After reading your posts over several times – it appears to me, very clearly, that both of you are far more stable than anyone who has tried to discredit an artist such as Thomas Kinkade.

    The artist (Kinkade) is one who brought/brings light, and joy to most all who gaze upon his paintings. There is no darkness in his work, which makes it special.

    It is obvious, that many who envy this mans talent, are consumed with his success – WHY? – Kinkade didn’t bring anything but joy and peace. The world loves distortion, we see it in the ‘headlines’ everyday. Kindade stays true to his vison, that of peace and joy.

    Blessings to both you ladies.

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

    This is a little off-topic, but I’m not fond of Siedell using the phrase “personal demons” to describe personal problems, in part because it’s bad theology (referring to struggles as “demons” is both unscriptural and trivializes the fact that there are real spiritual beings called demons that exist) and in part because it’s a terrible pop culture term.

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

    This is a little off-topic, but I’m not fond of Siedell using the phrase “personal demons” to describe personal problems, in part because it’s bad theology (referring to struggles as “demons” is both unscriptural and trivializes the fact that there are real spiritual beings called demons that exist) and in part because it’s a terrible pop culture term.

  • Joanne

    This may sound personal, but Satan and his evil angels are out to personally kill your body and take ownership of your soul. Jesus and his good angels are out to claim your soul and take it to heaven at the best time possible for you and the Kingdom of Heaven.

    This isn’t a fair fight. Satan and angels in general have none of the attributes of God as Jesus does have.

    Jesus can hear your thoughts; angels cannot know the secrets of your heart.

    In fact, Jesus knows everything from eternity to eternity. He knew you were His before the foundations of the earth were laid. Satan and angels know only what they see and hear, only what they personally learn by watching and listening. They are very smart, and in evil, very cunning. A fool and his soul are quickly parted, one might say. (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.)

    Were it not for your Champion, no one nor anything will ever take you out of his hand, you might have to worry. But, you still will need to battle Satan and your Old Adam everyday.

    A devil might suggest to your beloved that it would be OK to sin just a little, just this once. Your beloved whispers softly and beguilingly, “Here honey, just one bite.” And by the power of the Holy Spirit whom you heard in preaching just the day before, you say, “I don’t think so.” And then in an act of profound grace, a good angel slips your beloved some Syrup of Ipecac, while your personal bad angels weren’t looking (literally).

    Your beloved immediately vomits up that evil bite and says, “Ugh, what was that nasty stuff.” And you, again in your state of grace says, “Nothing, but don’t eat that stuff, it’ll make you fat and old.”

    I think constantly of what makes my spaces comfortable for good angels, and uncomfortable for bad angels, always remembering their limitations. I pray aloud, even when alone, so the angels can hear me. I place religious symbols and pictures in promenent places so that the angels can see them.

    When I make delicious smells and play lovely music with lovely lyrics or none, out loud, I invite Jesus and his good angels to come and join me in whatsoever things are lovely.

    And, just for fun, never miss a chance to discomfit the evil angels. Keep them at bay with the Word of God and all the good things that come from it.

    But, you originally objected to the idea of personal demons. The Greeks who spoke koine’, had a word for bad little powers that were a pain in the butt. They called them demons (daemonioi). They are bad spirits that are some kind of bad angel who are the same as bad spirits. Now, whether we have bad spirits/angels personally assigned to make our lives miserable, I’d say, do you have in-laws, or cats, or fleas, or flys, or an unquenchable desire to drink alchohol? Do you have intractible diseases that make you miserable. Devils are attracted to anything that makes you unhappy and they are in number inumerable.

    Yeah, I think it’s intirely possible that some bad angels may have made a personal quest to steal your soul. And, Jesus may, as he did with Job, tease the devils and burn the dross out of you for a while. But, the devils have already lost before they begin because you belong to Jesus and he refuses to lose those that are His.

  • Joanne

    This may sound personal, but Satan and his evil angels are out to personally kill your body and take ownership of your soul. Jesus and his good angels are out to claim your soul and take it to heaven at the best time possible for you and the Kingdom of Heaven.

    This isn’t a fair fight. Satan and angels in general have none of the attributes of God as Jesus does have.

    Jesus can hear your thoughts; angels cannot know the secrets of your heart.

    In fact, Jesus knows everything from eternity to eternity. He knew you were His before the foundations of the earth were laid. Satan and angels know only what they see and hear, only what they personally learn by watching and listening. They are very smart, and in evil, very cunning. A fool and his soul are quickly parted, one might say. (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.)

    Were it not for your Champion, no one nor anything will ever take you out of his hand, you might have to worry. But, you still will need to battle Satan and your Old Adam everyday.

    A devil might suggest to your beloved that it would be OK to sin just a little, just this once. Your beloved whispers softly and beguilingly, “Here honey, just one bite.” And by the power of the Holy Spirit whom you heard in preaching just the day before, you say, “I don’t think so.” And then in an act of profound grace, a good angel slips your beloved some Syrup of Ipecac, while your personal bad angels weren’t looking (literally).

    Your beloved immediately vomits up that evil bite and says, “Ugh, what was that nasty stuff.” And you, again in your state of grace says, “Nothing, but don’t eat that stuff, it’ll make you fat and old.”

    I think constantly of what makes my spaces comfortable for good angels, and uncomfortable for bad angels, always remembering their limitations. I pray aloud, even when alone, so the angels can hear me. I place religious symbols and pictures in promenent places so that the angels can see them.

    When I make delicious smells and play lovely music with lovely lyrics or none, out loud, I invite Jesus and his good angels to come and join me in whatsoever things are lovely.

    And, just for fun, never miss a chance to discomfit the evil angels. Keep them at bay with the Word of God and all the good things that come from it.

    But, you originally objected to the idea of personal demons. The Greeks who spoke koine’, had a word for bad little powers that were a pain in the butt. They called them demons (daemonioi). They are bad spirits that are some kind of bad angel who are the same as bad spirits. Now, whether we have bad spirits/angels personally assigned to make our lives miserable, I’d say, do you have in-laws, or cats, or fleas, or flys, or an unquenchable desire to drink alchohol? Do you have intractible diseases that make you miserable. Devils are attracted to anything that makes you unhappy and they are in number inumerable.

    Yeah, I think it’s intirely possible that some bad angels may have made a personal quest to steal your soul. And, Jesus may, as he did with Job, tease the devils and burn the dross out of you for a while. But, the devils have already lost before they begin because you belong to Jesus and he refuses to lose those that are His.

  • Grace

    Joanne @ 31

    YOU WROTE: “I think constantly of what makes my spaces comfortable for good angels, and uncomfortable for bad angels, always remembering their limitations. I pray aloud, even when alone, so the angels can hear me. I place religious symbols and pictures in promenent places so that the angels can see them.”

    Pictures and symbols don’t scare – remember Joanne, Satan tried to tempt the LORD, knowing full well who HE was. Satan was before the LORD God.

    Praying aloud. Why? – God is ALMIGHTY, HE doesn’t need the “angeles” hearing us pray aloud to know our needs, and requests.

    Jesus stated:

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

    8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
    Matthew 6

    YOU WROTE: “And, just for fun, never miss a chance to discomfit the evil angels. Keep them at bay with the Word of God and all the good things that come from it.

    But, you originally objected to the idea of personal demons. The Greeks who spoke koine’, had a word for bad little powers that were a pain in the butt. They called them demons (daemonioi). They are bad spirits that are some kind of bad angel who are the same as bad spirits. Now, whether we have bad spirits/angels personally assigned to make our lives miserable, I’d say, do you have in-laws, or cats, or fleas, or flys, or an unquenchable desire to drink alchohol? Do you have intractible diseases that make you miserable. Devils are attracted to anything that makes you unhappy and they are in number inumerable.”

    You’ve made a lot of assumptions regarding “angeles” – do you have Scripture to back up what you’re stating, from the New Testament?

  • Grace

    Joanne @ 31

    YOU WROTE: “I think constantly of what makes my spaces comfortable for good angels, and uncomfortable for bad angels, always remembering their limitations. I pray aloud, even when alone, so the angels can hear me. I place religious symbols and pictures in promenent places so that the angels can see them.”

    Pictures and symbols don’t scare – remember Joanne, Satan tried to tempt the LORD, knowing full well who HE was. Satan was before the LORD God.

    Praying aloud. Why? – God is ALMIGHTY, HE doesn’t need the “angeles” hearing us pray aloud to know our needs, and requests.

    Jesus stated:

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

    8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
    Matthew 6

    YOU WROTE: “And, just for fun, never miss a chance to discomfit the evil angels. Keep them at bay with the Word of God and all the good things that come from it.

    But, you originally objected to the idea of personal demons. The Greeks who spoke koine’, had a word for bad little powers that were a pain in the butt. They called them demons (daemonioi). They are bad spirits that are some kind of bad angel who are the same as bad spirits. Now, whether we have bad spirits/angels personally assigned to make our lives miserable, I’d say, do you have in-laws, or cats, or fleas, or flys, or an unquenchable desire to drink alchohol? Do you have intractible diseases that make you miserable. Devils are attracted to anything that makes you unhappy and they are in number inumerable.”

    You’ve made a lot of assumptions regarding “angeles” – do you have Scripture to back up what you’re stating, from the New Testament?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Grace # 29-thank you for your Blessing- as to your :

    “It is obvious, that many who envy this mans talent,…”

    ENVY is the fulcrum that we must all watch out for–as it impairs thee human’s ability ‘see’ clearly–

    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Grace # 29-thank you for your Blessing- as to your :

    “It is obvious, that many who envy this mans talent,…”

    ENVY is the fulcrum that we must all watch out for–as it impairs thee human’s ability ‘see’ clearly–

    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    that would be : THE human’s ability to ‘see’ clearly-

    Time to go and watch the Kings hockey team defeat NJ : – )

    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    that would be : THE human’s ability to ‘see’ clearly-

    Time to go and watch the Kings hockey team defeat NJ : – )

    Carol-CS

  • Grace

    Carol-CS

    Thanks for the words of wisdom – there is much to be said about “envy” – it corrupts the heart of man, to have that which is not his.

    Hockey is a great sport – :) Have fun!

  • Grace

    Carol-CS

    Thanks for the words of wisdom – there is much to be said about “envy” – it corrupts the heart of man, to have that which is not his.

    Hockey is a great sport – :) Have fun!

  • Grace

    Carol-CS

    You’re right their up 2-0! Looks like a Stanley Cup for L.A. YEAH!

    Do you live in Southern CA? I do – :)

  • Grace

    Carol-CS

    You’re right their up 2-0! Looks like a Stanley Cup for L.A. YEAH!

    Do you live in Southern CA? I do – :)

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Grace-yes I do -Hello fellow SOCALifornian!

    Kings in a sweep-what do you think!

    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Grace-yes I do -Hello fellow SOCALifornian!

    Kings in a sweep-what do you think!

    Carol-CS

  • Tom Hering

    Siedell’s articles leave me wondering how he knows so much about Kinkade, the man and the Christian. By just looking at his art, and comparing it with some known facts about his life and death? Well, if that’s all Siedell had done, most of us would just shrug our shoulders and say, “Maybe.” But he instead presumes a lot, without referencing things like interviews, or a personal journal, or an autobiography, or a collection of correspondences. And the effect is creepy, intrusive, and voyeuristic. I’m pretty sure that Siedell’s analysis is simplistic (idealization = legalism), and that the story scholars will piece together, someday, will be far more complex. But for now, I just have to wonder how Siedell knows all these things he asserts about the nature of Kinkade’s personal faith in Christ. This is theology and art criticism as Jerry Springer Show.

  • Tom Hering

    Siedell’s articles leave me wondering how he knows so much about Kinkade, the man and the Christian. By just looking at his art, and comparing it with some known facts about his life and death? Well, if that’s all Siedell had done, most of us would just shrug our shoulders and say, “Maybe.” But he instead presumes a lot, without referencing things like interviews, or a personal journal, or an autobiography, or a collection of correspondences. And the effect is creepy, intrusive, and voyeuristic. I’m pretty sure that Siedell’s analysis is simplistic (idealization = legalism), and that the story scholars will piece together, someday, will be far more complex. But for now, I just have to wonder how Siedell knows all these things he asserts about the nature of Kinkade’s personal faith in Christ. This is theology and art criticism as Jerry Springer Show.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh. Do I like Kinkade’s art? No. I don’t see the world as blue, green, pink, and yellow – exclusively. Nor do I want to. I need to see the black, brown, gray, and red – as well.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh. Do I like Kinkade’s art? No. I don’t see the world as blue, green, pink, and yellow – exclusively. Nor do I want to. I need to see the black, brown, gray, and red – as well.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith,

    I wouldn’t mind hearing you explore the idea that artists do/should/might express their personal struggle in their art. That has kept my attention a bit.

    Is this something that an artist chooses to do, or is it inherent in the process? Is it voluntary or involuntary? It seems to me that there is an expectation for an artist to have some sort of subtext, perhaps more from critics than self. Has this expectation become formulaic and constricting? I don’t know. I don’t know art. But I’d be curious to have your take.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith,

    I wouldn’t mind hearing you explore the idea that artists do/should/might express their personal struggle in their art. That has kept my attention a bit.

    Is this something that an artist chooses to do, or is it inherent in the process? Is it voluntary or involuntary? It seems to me that there is an expectation for an artist to have some sort of subtext, perhaps more from critics than self. Has this expectation become formulaic and constricting? I don’t know. I don’t know art. But I’d be curious to have your take.

  • Joanne

    The advent of photography changed the joblike need to record how things and people actually looked for the very menial job of artist. When you read about the great art studios of the past one gets the since of an art factory rather than an artist’s studio. As time went on and photography got better and better and turned into an artform of its own, the sphere of the illustrative artists constricted to book and magazine illustration. It made the emotive quality the final raison d’ente of the fine arts.

    Sooner or later, we are going to have to talk about the use of art in the Lutheran worship space, especially about this dicotomy between the purely emotive and the purely illustrative. I will say that I can think of hundreds of purely emotive works of art, but I can’t think of any illustrative art that does not also evoke emotion and that says something controlled and recognizabe to more than just one person (some artists say their art is meant to say whatever the viewer imagines it says, sort of like the new grade school teaching).

    The question changed from what is depicted and how well, to how does this object make you feel. Slowly but surely, the fine arts lost all need to be illustrative and by the 20th century, there were a myriad of pictures that said nothing but evoked, in some, emotions. Of course the public’s willingness to pay huge sums for paint poured from buckets onto large canvases lying on the floor and of collages of candy wrappers, tin cans, and other “found” objects made it all seem so real. Money made modern art.

    I feel fortunate to have lived long enough to have reached the period of the post-modern in the arts. But there had always been the artists who would not give up the illustrative, and documentary aspects of art. Do you remember in the 1970s that period of super-illustrative painting that was meant to appear as if they were photographs. One was shocked to realize it was a painting because the artist had used an abundance of detail. In the 80s I remember an artist who made life-life sculptures of real people. You had to almost touch them to realize it was not a living person. One such was a twin of a University of Miami football player, seated on the bench during a game, leaning forward and holding his helmut in his hand. When alone in the exhibition room with it, I could never relax, always feeling that someone else was there getting ready to jump up and run off somewhere.

    I will be happy to start the flap by saying that the purely emotive has only a very small usefulness in the Lutheran worship space, but it would have to be defined by other illustative art near by. The wall panel, say, behind a large illustrative, recognizable crucifix could be purely emotive of, what? The emotion you have while viewing or concentrating upon a crucifix should be what?

    My answer is that, as Lutherans we will look to the Bible for suggestions or direct words about what feelings the Bible mentions at the crucifixion of Our Lord. The Bible will guide us even in choices about purely emotive art. But the emotive must procede from the illustrative. The message of the art taken from the Bible will indicate the emotions the art inspires. Church art by it’s very nature cannot mean anything to anybody. It must very similarly affect almost all the viewers. (Of cource, excepting the Universalists who could start a new religion from a blank canvass.)

    At one time that was a common and obvious thing to say about the fine arts. Now, it may be art heresy. Here’s another hotheaded assertion: Illustrative art can be just as good art as non-figurative, non-illutrative art. Maybe we are way past the time the odd art market would pay in the 10s of millions for current illustrative art, but the price tag does not indicate the fineness of the art, but only the value of the object. (Ooooh, fine arts majors are foaming at the mouth, so I’ll stop now at a purely emotive point.)

  • Joanne

    The advent of photography changed the joblike need to record how things and people actually looked for the very menial job of artist. When you read about the great art studios of the past one gets the since of an art factory rather than an artist’s studio. As time went on and photography got better and better and turned into an artform of its own, the sphere of the illustrative artists constricted to book and magazine illustration. It made the emotive quality the final raison d’ente of the fine arts.

    Sooner or later, we are going to have to talk about the use of art in the Lutheran worship space, especially about this dicotomy between the purely emotive and the purely illustrative. I will say that I can think of hundreds of purely emotive works of art, but I can’t think of any illustrative art that does not also evoke emotion and that says something controlled and recognizabe to more than just one person (some artists say their art is meant to say whatever the viewer imagines it says, sort of like the new grade school teaching).

    The question changed from what is depicted and how well, to how does this object make you feel. Slowly but surely, the fine arts lost all need to be illustrative and by the 20th century, there were a myriad of pictures that said nothing but evoked, in some, emotions. Of course the public’s willingness to pay huge sums for paint poured from buckets onto large canvases lying on the floor and of collages of candy wrappers, tin cans, and other “found” objects made it all seem so real. Money made modern art.

    I feel fortunate to have lived long enough to have reached the period of the post-modern in the arts. But there had always been the artists who would not give up the illustrative, and documentary aspects of art. Do you remember in the 1970s that period of super-illustrative painting that was meant to appear as if they were photographs. One was shocked to realize it was a painting because the artist had used an abundance of detail. In the 80s I remember an artist who made life-life sculptures of real people. You had to almost touch them to realize it was not a living person. One such was a twin of a University of Miami football player, seated on the bench during a game, leaning forward and holding his helmut in his hand. When alone in the exhibition room with it, I could never relax, always feeling that someone else was there getting ready to jump up and run off somewhere.

    I will be happy to start the flap by saying that the purely emotive has only a very small usefulness in the Lutheran worship space, but it would have to be defined by other illustative art near by. The wall panel, say, behind a large illustrative, recognizable crucifix could be purely emotive of, what? The emotion you have while viewing or concentrating upon a crucifix should be what?

    My answer is that, as Lutherans we will look to the Bible for suggestions or direct words about what feelings the Bible mentions at the crucifixion of Our Lord. The Bible will guide us even in choices about purely emotive art. But the emotive must procede from the illustrative. The message of the art taken from the Bible will indicate the emotions the art inspires. Church art by it’s very nature cannot mean anything to anybody. It must very similarly affect almost all the viewers. (Of cource, excepting the Universalists who could start a new religion from a blank canvass.)

    At one time that was a common and obvious thing to say about the fine arts. Now, it may be art heresy. Here’s another hotheaded assertion: Illustrative art can be just as good art as non-figurative, non-illutrative art. Maybe we are way past the time the odd art market would pay in the 10s of millions for current illustrative art, but the price tag does not indicate the fineness of the art, but only the value of the object. (Ooooh, fine arts majors are foaming at the mouth, so I’ll stop now at a purely emotive point.)

  • Grace

    Carol-CS @37

    It’s GOOD!

  • Grace

    Carol-CS @37

    It’s GOOD!

  • Abby

    Tom @ 39: I agree. I don’t care for the brightly colored ones much. This is one of my paintings:

    http://www.thomaskinkade.com/magi/servlet/com.asucon.ebiz.catalog.web.tk.CatalogServlet?catalogAction=Product&productId=69361

  • Abby

    Tom @ 39: I agree. I don’t care for the brightly colored ones much. This is one of my paintings:

    http://www.thomaskinkade.com/magi/servlet/com.asucon.ebiz.catalog.web.tk.CatalogServlet?catalogAction=Product&productId=69361

  • Rev.Paul T. McCain

    I’ve been following the Kincaid story and, aside from concern for him as a brother in Christ, the art….

    Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.

    Just pure garbage from every artistic point of view.

    Apparently there was a point in his life where he may actually have been more than a dime store style artist.

  • Rev.Paul T. McCain

    I’ve been following the Kincaid story and, aside from concern for him as a brother in Christ, the art….

    Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.

    Just pure garbage from every artistic point of view.

    Apparently there was a point in his life where he may actually have been more than a dime store style artist.

  • helen

    McCain @ 44
    Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.

    The Rev.PTMcCain should know. There is a good deal more of the same stuff between the covers of his organization’s catalog. ;)

  • helen

    McCain @ 44
    Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.

    The Rev.PTMcCain should know. There is a good deal more of the same stuff between the covers of his organization’s catalog. ;)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, Dan, picking up on what Joanne said, to the extent that art is “expressive,” if the artist is struggling with internal conflicts of one kind or another, his or her art is going to “express” what is going on inside. (I’m not convinced that this is the only way art can be. It’s a romantic view. Classical art was based on imitation of objective form. Still, Joanne is right that the expressive view dominates today. Furthermore, Thomas Kinkade was working in the idiom of romantic views of nature, rather than classical views of nature.

    Sometimes, of course, as Paul McCain says, an artist is just trying to put together something to make some money. Expression or imitating aesthetic forms or exploring a theme or other higher motives are thrown out. (This is true in music, literature, and all the arts.) When that happens, we say the art lacks “authenticity.” Not that the art isn’t real, but that the artist isn’t being real in that he is making art that is disconnected with his life and his very creativity.

    I would say that for a creative person to turn out non-creative work–as when the artist follows the commercial impulse even when that goes against his very artistic impulses–is indeed a conflict and a matter of agony. (We also see this when musicians or writers “sell out” to the marketplace.) Furthermore, the degree of this agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.

    If Siedell is right, that Kinkade’s art “killed him,” then that would be a tribute to Kinkade’s artistic potential.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, Dan, picking up on what Joanne said, to the extent that art is “expressive,” if the artist is struggling with internal conflicts of one kind or another, his or her art is going to “express” what is going on inside. (I’m not convinced that this is the only way art can be. It’s a romantic view. Classical art was based on imitation of objective form. Still, Joanne is right that the expressive view dominates today. Furthermore, Thomas Kinkade was working in the idiom of romantic views of nature, rather than classical views of nature.

    Sometimes, of course, as Paul McCain says, an artist is just trying to put together something to make some money. Expression or imitating aesthetic forms or exploring a theme or other higher motives are thrown out. (This is true in music, literature, and all the arts.) When that happens, we say the art lacks “authenticity.” Not that the art isn’t real, but that the artist isn’t being real in that he is making art that is disconnected with his life and his very creativity.

    I would say that for a creative person to turn out non-creative work–as when the artist follows the commercial impulse even when that goes against his very artistic impulses–is indeed a conflict and a matter of agony. (We also see this when musicians or writers “sell out” to the marketplace.) Furthermore, the degree of this agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.

    If Siedell is right, that Kinkade’s art “killed him,” then that would be a tribute to Kinkade’s artistic potential.

  • Grace

    “Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.”

    Some artists make a great deal of money, never dreaming they would become so wealthy. Kinkade’s talent, was/is accepted because it’s beautiful, filled with light. Those who detest such art, couldn’t care less about the sentimental parts of life, they miss the point, they are the ones who concern themselves with the financial aspect of the result, the envious ‘critic’ never changes.

    Something as beautiful as a cottage next to a stream, that brings joy to thousands of people – that is “schlock” ? – it’s a gift from God, whom Kinkade used to bring happiness to many people.

    The real “schlock” is an envious heart – it reeks havoc in the lives of those who cannot contain their wrath.

    Be careful, one can never know the heart of an artist. Those who bring beauty and peace into this world, are far more likely to love – NOT, the artist who brings distorted images, wrapped in colors and shadows of evil, giving a message of distruction and hate.

  • Grace

    “Well, it always has been about making money by producing sentimentalistic schlock, pure and simple.”

    Some artists make a great deal of money, never dreaming they would become so wealthy. Kinkade’s talent, was/is accepted because it’s beautiful, filled with light. Those who detest such art, couldn’t care less about the sentimental parts of life, they miss the point, they are the ones who concern themselves with the financial aspect of the result, the envious ‘critic’ never changes.

    Something as beautiful as a cottage next to a stream, that brings joy to thousands of people – that is “schlock” ? – it’s a gift from God, whom Kinkade used to bring happiness to many people.

    The real “schlock” is an envious heart – it reeks havoc in the lives of those who cannot contain their wrath.

    Be careful, one can never know the heart of an artist. Those who bring beauty and peace into this world, are far more likely to love – NOT, the artist who brings distorted images, wrapped in colors and shadows of evil, giving a message of distruction and hate.

  • Grace

    Helen @ 45

    You sure hit the nail on that one – :lol:

  • Grace

    Helen @ 45

    You sure hit the nail on that one – :lol:

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@47):

    Be careful, one can never know the heart of an artist. Those who bring beauty and peace into this world, are far more likely to love – NOT, the artist who brings distorted images, wrapped in colors and shadows of evil, giving a message of distruction and hate.

    I really appreciate how your second sentence contradicts your first one. You can “never know the heart of an artist” … Oh, and bad artists are less “likely to love”. Good job, there, Cap’n Consistency.

    Also, I appreciate how you also keep trying to tell everyone who disagrees with you that they’re merely “envious”. Apparently, you have no difficulty reading other people’s hearts … except that when you do, you always find jealousy. Perhaps you’re heart-illiterate?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@47):

    Be careful, one can never know the heart of an artist. Those who bring beauty and peace into this world, are far more likely to love – NOT, the artist who brings distorted images, wrapped in colors and shadows of evil, giving a message of distruction and hate.

    I really appreciate how your second sentence contradicts your first one. You can “never know the heart of an artist” … Oh, and bad artists are less “likely to love”. Good job, there, Cap’n Consistency.

    Also, I appreciate how you also keep trying to tell everyone who disagrees with you that they’re merely “envious”. Apparently, you have no difficulty reading other people’s hearts … except that when you do, you always find jealousy. Perhaps you’re heart-illiterate?

  • Dan Kempin

    Joane, #41,

    “The question changed from what is depicted and how well, to how does this object make you feel.”

    That seems true. But why? It almost seems that the definition of art has phased and “art” now means something other than the medium itself. Maybe that’s why “struggle” is now a quasi expectation. Maybe it also explains the frustration of so many in a contemporary art discussion. There is a certain “I-don’t-know-what-we-are-talking-about-because-I-don’t-know-the-rules” awkwardness that descends upon me when the discussion of a painting covers everything but (seemingly) the canvas itself.

  • Dan Kempin

    Joane, #41,

    “The question changed from what is depicted and how well, to how does this object make you feel.”

    That seems true. But why? It almost seems that the definition of art has phased and “art” now means something other than the medium itself. Maybe that’s why “struggle” is now a quasi expectation. Maybe it also explains the frustration of so many in a contemporary art discussion. There is a certain “I-don’t-know-what-we-are-talking-about-because-I-don’t-know-the-rules” awkwardness that descends upon me when the discussion of a painting covers everything but (seemingly) the canvas itself.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #46,

    “I would say that for a creative person to turn out non-creative work–as when the artist follows the commercial impulse even when that goes against his very artistic impulses–is indeed a conflict and a matter of agony.”

    So how does this impact vocation? Should an artist pursue their own inner creativity, or serve their neighbor by providing what the market (neighbor) wants? Serious question. In other vocations we would consider it more noble to subsume one’s own desire in order to serve the requirements of vocation. We do not consider that to be “schlock,” though we would certainly concede the agony of drudgery.

    In the arts there seems to be the sense that the inner impulses MUST be followed as though, well, as though they were divine. Our theology would inform us differently about the impulses of the human heart.

    I am still deeply influenced by the discussion we had here on Makoto Fujimura, and his view–the part that really clicked for me–seemed so much bigger than the personal struggles of an artist. Art is an expression of the reality of God, sometimes in spite of the artist. And, I imagine, art can also be an expression of defiance as to the reality of God.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #46,

    “I would say that for a creative person to turn out non-creative work–as when the artist follows the commercial impulse even when that goes against his very artistic impulses–is indeed a conflict and a matter of agony.”

    So how does this impact vocation? Should an artist pursue their own inner creativity, or serve their neighbor by providing what the market (neighbor) wants? Serious question. In other vocations we would consider it more noble to subsume one’s own desire in order to serve the requirements of vocation. We do not consider that to be “schlock,” though we would certainly concede the agony of drudgery.

    In the arts there seems to be the sense that the inner impulses MUST be followed as though, well, as though they were divine. Our theology would inform us differently about the impulses of the human heart.

    I am still deeply influenced by the discussion we had here on Makoto Fujimura, and his view–the part that really clicked for me–seemed so much bigger than the personal struggles of an artist. Art is an expression of the reality of God, sometimes in spite of the artist. And, I imagine, art can also be an expression of defiance as to the reality of God.

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

    I find it offensive that Mr. Kinkade was called “the painter of light”, because another artist was so called: Rembrandt van Rijn. After Rembrandt’s life turned for the worse is when he painted and etched his greatest works, usually scenes from the Bible and especially the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rembrandt used light as both shining on the subject and shining forth from the subject, especially the Lord. Now I do not like the psychologizing from afar of a dead man as I think the writer does above, but generally speaking he does speak to a religiosity/spirituality turned inwards toward the unregenerate Old Adam and what that dead-end can do to the soul. Rembrandt sought the Word and painted it as he read it in the Bible. “In Thy light do we see light.” Someone posted in the prior posting on Kinkade that his work will live forever. I heartily beg to differ. I do not need to be an art critic or artist to see the difference in painting between Rembrandt and Mr. Kinkade. I just do not think that 100 years from now there will be a major art museum a “Kinkade Restrospective” but men and women will still be viewing a true painter of Light, enfleshed in Jesus Christ.

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

    I find it offensive that Mr. Kinkade was called “the painter of light”, because another artist was so called: Rembrandt van Rijn. After Rembrandt’s life turned for the worse is when he painted and etched his greatest works, usually scenes from the Bible and especially the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rembrandt used light as both shining on the subject and shining forth from the subject, especially the Lord. Now I do not like the psychologizing from afar of a dead man as I think the writer does above, but generally speaking he does speak to a religiosity/spirituality turned inwards toward the unregenerate Old Adam and what that dead-end can do to the soul. Rembrandt sought the Word and painted it as he read it in the Bible. “In Thy light do we see light.” Someone posted in the prior posting on Kinkade that his work will live forever. I heartily beg to differ. I do not need to be an art critic or artist to see the difference in painting between Rembrandt and Mr. Kinkade. I just do not think that 100 years from now there will be a major art museum a “Kinkade Restrospective” but men and women will still be viewing a true painter of Light, enfleshed in Jesus Christ.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kinkade catered to overt sentimentality, and fluffy idealism. If that is your thing, fine. Tasteless – absolutely, but then again, in free market, nothing stops anybody from masking a buck off the taste-challenged.

    Someone liking Kinkade tells me more about them, than about Kinkade.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kinkade catered to overt sentimentality, and fluffy idealism. If that is your thing, fine. Tasteless – absolutely, but then again, in free market, nothing stops anybody from masking a buck off the taste-challenged.

    Someone liking Kinkade tells me more about them, than about Kinkade.

  • Stephen

    Dan

    “So how does this impact vocation? Should an artist pursue their own inner creativity, or serve their neighbor by providing what the market (neighbor) wants? Serious question.”

    As and artist myself, I live this question and there is no “good” answer. It can become a very passive/aggressive situation at times. A lot of it has to do with building trust AND proving one’s self over and over as an artist. But sometimes the trust between the artist and the audience is not there. There are perhaps lots of reasons that so much expectation is brought to the experience of another’s creativity. Being a pastor, I would bet you have sense of having all kinds of expectations placed on you that you must disabuse people of, either directly or over time, until they see what you understand being a pastor to be about.

    Some artists are perfectly okay with focusing their sense of responsibility completely on the work itself. Some learn quickly that people cannot be pleased and that it is too suffocating to work trying to please others. Kierkegaard said he wrote his work to the “single one.” He imagined someone out there that would receive his works and understand them, and basically, to hell with everyone else. Would we have his work today in its form if he had “sacrificed” it or toned it down because it caused consternation and even hatred? There is a lot of great work that would never have come into being if that approach had not been taken.

    So, every artist has to gage what they are able to handle. Some of it comes down to basic economics. If I do this I get that, and I really need that. But, though it may seem like it, being able to say “screw it, they don’t get it” does not come without a cost, and I don’t think that most artists who are able to work up that kind of courage (or arrogance – take your pick) have any illusions about that. They just figure that there will be a struggle either way and make a decision.

    To turn the question around a little, to what degree does anyone owe their neighbor mediocrity?

    “In the arts there seems to be the sense that the inner impulses MUST be followed as though, well, as though they were divine. Our theology would inform us differently about the impulses of the human heart.”

    What do you mean? I think “impulse” is just one thing in a range of possibilities. Artists see things that others simply cannot. Yes, in a sense, there is a “must” for that artist, a personal imperative not to compromise. Loyalty to the idea and its execution is the goal. Not worrying about offending or perplexing people can be half the battle, along with wondering if anyone will give two cents about your work. Those not involved in the process are not privy to the compromises, some large and some minute, that come with the territory of art making. All they see is the result, which they may then dissect at will.

    The bashing that Kincaide is receiving is about artistic integrity – did he have any. Well, that all depends on the terms. If building a personal brand, making a buck and pleasing lots of people is the goal, then yes. If trying to do something bold or new or experimental or challenging is the goal, then I would have to say no. Likewise, if the goal is purely to meet the needs of a client and get paid to do so, then there are measures for that too – things like skill and execution compared to others the field and meeting both a deadline and a customers expectations of quality. By no means do those examples exhaust the possibilities either. How well does the organist perform their duty? Is it because they play magnificently, passionately, flawlessly or because they know how to read the congregation? In any case, what artists know in some way is that the goal is where they derive integrity as an artist. That goal, whether solely their own or agreed upon in some way, is actually what people will want if they are going to want anything at all from them. Sometimes (often?) it is the artist themselves who know best how to achieve those ends. We’d expect no less from any other professional.

    It is not all that one-sided either. Artists do wish to communicate. Sometimes that communication may be more visceral, sometimes more emotional, and sometimes intellectual. but when was the last time you finished a great novel or walked out of great movie and said “I know exactly what that was about” and were able to say so in a few words. What makes it great is that you can’t.

    Your statement about our theology seems to imply that there are situations when we can do the law (as art) and others when we don’t. All art is earthly kingdom and law. As such it is distorted by sin like everything else, even and perhaps most especially when we assume we can do it in just such a perfected, righteous way (Heidelburg Disputations anyone?).

    Of course there is always a context that inheres in the work implying a set of perimeters. There is an axiomatic quality to art that we all sense, and artists will sin. So will everyone else.

    Well, that’s a lot. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me to write it.

  • Stephen

    Dan

    “So how does this impact vocation? Should an artist pursue their own inner creativity, or serve their neighbor by providing what the market (neighbor) wants? Serious question.”

    As and artist myself, I live this question and there is no “good” answer. It can become a very passive/aggressive situation at times. A lot of it has to do with building trust AND proving one’s self over and over as an artist. But sometimes the trust between the artist and the audience is not there. There are perhaps lots of reasons that so much expectation is brought to the experience of another’s creativity. Being a pastor, I would bet you have sense of having all kinds of expectations placed on you that you must disabuse people of, either directly or over time, until they see what you understand being a pastor to be about.

    Some artists are perfectly okay with focusing their sense of responsibility completely on the work itself. Some learn quickly that people cannot be pleased and that it is too suffocating to work trying to please others. Kierkegaard said he wrote his work to the “single one.” He imagined someone out there that would receive his works and understand them, and basically, to hell with everyone else. Would we have his work today in its form if he had “sacrificed” it or toned it down because it caused consternation and even hatred? There is a lot of great work that would never have come into being if that approach had not been taken.

    So, every artist has to gage what they are able to handle. Some of it comes down to basic economics. If I do this I get that, and I really need that. But, though it may seem like it, being able to say “screw it, they don’t get it” does not come without a cost, and I don’t think that most artists who are able to work up that kind of courage (or arrogance – take your pick) have any illusions about that. They just figure that there will be a struggle either way and make a decision.

    To turn the question around a little, to what degree does anyone owe their neighbor mediocrity?

    “In the arts there seems to be the sense that the inner impulses MUST be followed as though, well, as though they were divine. Our theology would inform us differently about the impulses of the human heart.”

    What do you mean? I think “impulse” is just one thing in a range of possibilities. Artists see things that others simply cannot. Yes, in a sense, there is a “must” for that artist, a personal imperative not to compromise. Loyalty to the idea and its execution is the goal. Not worrying about offending or perplexing people can be half the battle, along with wondering if anyone will give two cents about your work. Those not involved in the process are not privy to the compromises, some large and some minute, that come with the territory of art making. All they see is the result, which they may then dissect at will.

    The bashing that Kincaide is receiving is about artistic integrity – did he have any. Well, that all depends on the terms. If building a personal brand, making a buck and pleasing lots of people is the goal, then yes. If trying to do something bold or new or experimental or challenging is the goal, then I would have to say no. Likewise, if the goal is purely to meet the needs of a client and get paid to do so, then there are measures for that too – things like skill and execution compared to others the field and meeting both a deadline and a customers expectations of quality. By no means do those examples exhaust the possibilities either. How well does the organist perform their duty? Is it because they play magnificently, passionately, flawlessly or because they know how to read the congregation? In any case, what artists know in some way is that the goal is where they derive integrity as an artist. That goal, whether solely their own or agreed upon in some way, is actually what people will want if they are going to want anything at all from them. Sometimes (often?) it is the artist themselves who know best how to achieve those ends. We’d expect no less from any other professional.

    It is not all that one-sided either. Artists do wish to communicate. Sometimes that communication may be more visceral, sometimes more emotional, and sometimes intellectual. but when was the last time you finished a great novel or walked out of great movie and said “I know exactly what that was about” and were able to say so in a few words. What makes it great is that you can’t.

    Your statement about our theology seems to imply that there are situations when we can do the law (as art) and others when we don’t. All art is earthly kingdom and law. As such it is distorted by sin like everything else, even and perhaps most especially when we assume we can do it in just such a perfected, righteous way (Heidelburg Disputations anyone?).

    Of course there is always a context that inheres in the work implying a set of perimeters. There is an axiomatic quality to art that we all sense, and artists will sin. So will everyone else.

    Well, that’s a lot. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me to write it.

  • Stephen

    Sorry for the typos and missed punctuation. Not my usual style.

    PS Man Ray said he was not offended by art he didn’t like or thought was bad. He felt there were all kinds of other things one could do that were much more harmful. It’s a live and let live attitude I suppose. I like that. Artists need forgiveness too.

    Fear No Art.

  • Stephen

    Sorry for the typos and missed punctuation. Not my usual style.

    PS Man Ray said he was not offended by art he didn’t like or thought was bad. He felt there were all kinds of other things one could do that were much more harmful. It’s a live and let live attitude I suppose. I like that. Artists need forgiveness too.

    Fear No Art.

  • Stephen

    By the way:

    “Furthermore, the degree of this agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.”

    Uh, no. Dr. Veith, this sounds like pop psychology that plays into the the same mythologizing tendency. It sounds like you expect artists to “play to type” and really not be free to be people. Van Gogh didn’t suffer because no one bought his work. I don’t know that he actually cared. He suffered because he was manic/depressive and epileptic. And he painted exactly what he wanted to paint. And, by the way, it wasn’t just a lot of sloppy brushwork done on “impulse.” It’s actually very meticulous, studied and deliberate.

    The implication is that through art making one can be “self-actualized” and that this alleviates one’s misery. Again, my example of great artists who died painful and/or ignominious deaths, and whose recorded life indicates nothing of the sort. Rembrandt did not live life to be envied. Carravaggio, by all indications, was completely miserable and hounded his whole short life.

    Likewise, some of the most creative people out there today are commercial artists in every sense of the word – filmmakers, advertising designers, etc. Are their lives any less “actualized” or honest? Are they any less happy than they might otherwise be? Furthermore, are they void of integrity because they “sold out?”

    “Selling out” is an idea that is the product of the consumer mindset. Money, contra Joanne, has always played a significant role in the art world/business. Maybe those artist perceived as “selling out” actually did what they were capable of given their moment. Maybe that first album was a fluke. And maybe they are involved in what is known as “the music business” which has demands all its own. And maybe that kind of schlock was exactly what Kincaide could manage and enjoyed making and his genius was in marketing. Maybe he missed his calling and should have been in advertising, and that’s why he suffered. Not everyone is going to be Steven Spielberg or Scorsese with unlimited resources. And not everything those guys do is their next best work – well, maybe Scorsese ;).

    And can we stop saying “impulse,” as if art making is primarily a whim. That is just hackneyed.

  • Stephen

    By the way:

    “Furthermore, the degree of this agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.”

    Uh, no. Dr. Veith, this sounds like pop psychology that plays into the the same mythologizing tendency. It sounds like you expect artists to “play to type” and really not be free to be people. Van Gogh didn’t suffer because no one bought his work. I don’t know that he actually cared. He suffered because he was manic/depressive and epileptic. And he painted exactly what he wanted to paint. And, by the way, it wasn’t just a lot of sloppy brushwork done on “impulse.” It’s actually very meticulous, studied and deliberate.

    The implication is that through art making one can be “self-actualized” and that this alleviates one’s misery. Again, my example of great artists who died painful and/or ignominious deaths, and whose recorded life indicates nothing of the sort. Rembrandt did not live life to be envied. Carravaggio, by all indications, was completely miserable and hounded his whole short life.

    Likewise, some of the most creative people out there today are commercial artists in every sense of the word – filmmakers, advertising designers, etc. Are their lives any less “actualized” or honest? Are they any less happy than they might otherwise be? Furthermore, are they void of integrity because they “sold out?”

    “Selling out” is an idea that is the product of the consumer mindset. Money, contra Joanne, has always played a significant role in the art world/business. Maybe those artist perceived as “selling out” actually did what they were capable of given their moment. Maybe that first album was a fluke. And maybe they are involved in what is known as “the music business” which has demands all its own. And maybe that kind of schlock was exactly what Kincaide could manage and enjoyed making and his genius was in marketing. Maybe he missed his calling and should have been in advertising, and that’s why he suffered. Not everyone is going to be Steven Spielberg or Scorsese with unlimited resources. And not everything those guys do is their next best work – well, maybe Scorsese ;).

    And can we stop saying “impulse,” as if art making is primarily a whim. That is just hackneyed.

  • SKPeterson

    Okay, let’s start in on Maxfield Parrish. He did commercial work, that was often idealized, though in a manner much different from Kinkade. I prefer Parrish’s use of light much more than Kinkade’s, but I’m not sure if that means he has a better sense of sin.

  • SKPeterson

    Okay, let’s start in on Maxfield Parrish. He did commercial work, that was often idealized, though in a manner much different from Kinkade. I prefer Parrish’s use of light much more than Kinkade’s, but I’m not sure if that means he has a better sense of sin.

  • Stephen

    SK

    Perfect!

  • Stephen

    SK

    Perfect!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good comments Stephen! Especially on the nonsense notion of “tortured soul”. If one switches to composers for instance, one finds “tortured” fellows (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky) as well as happy ones (Hadyn, Mendelssohn), unappreciated ones (Bach) as well as idolized ones (Liszt).

    Some artists do become wealthy, others are penniless.

    Our romanticized view says more about us, than about them.

    My objection to Kinkade, as stated above, has nothing to do with his beliefs (or lack thereof), or his profit motive (or lack thereof). It simply is a matter of taste, or should I say, Taste. ;)

    I’m not one of these fellows that despise an artist because they were revolutionary (Chopin)/gay (Tchaikovsky) / non-believers (Goethe, every so many others) / Occultists (Conan Doyle, of sorts) / whatever. Judging the man or woman is an ill sport, we are all imperfect. The art is what matters in this case.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good comments Stephen! Especially on the nonsense notion of “tortured soul”. If one switches to composers for instance, one finds “tortured” fellows (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky) as well as happy ones (Hadyn, Mendelssohn), unappreciated ones (Bach) as well as idolized ones (Liszt).

    Some artists do become wealthy, others are penniless.

    Our romanticized view says more about us, than about them.

    My objection to Kinkade, as stated above, has nothing to do with his beliefs (or lack thereof), or his profit motive (or lack thereof). It simply is a matter of taste, or should I say, Taste. ;)

    I’m not one of these fellows that despise an artist because they were revolutionary (Chopin)/gay (Tchaikovsky) / non-believers (Goethe, every so many others) / Occultists (Conan Doyle, of sorts) / whatever. Judging the man or woman is an ill sport, we are all imperfect. The art is what matters in this case.

  • Joanne

    Up up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful ballooooooon.

    Most of us know that this happy, fun, 60s song is not a hymn in our hymnal, not even the green hymnal. But that doesn’t mean that one can’t create a hymn prelude on its pop tune.

    Recently a friend who attended the Springfield Seminary with another friend in the late 1960s, remembered to me that once at Springfield, our friend who was a talented musician, asked him to attend the next Sunday at the large German congregation down by the Capitol.

    My friend remembers that he did go and that our friend, who had a side job as organist in the big church on the big organ, did indeed play, during the service, a hymn prelude based on the pop tune, Up Up and Away.

    My friend’s comment was, “Well, you just can’t keep that much of a talent in a box.” And it seemed that no one at the congregation said a word about it. Our friend survived his youthful exuberance.

    I attended our friend’s church in Florida for about 5 years in the mid-1970s and step by small or large step, he completely remade that church to fit his talented capabilities. We formed a church group we named “The Human Touch,” and actualized every touchy-feely idea that passed our noses. Many dropped away as the church became more and more of a cult with a vocabulary all its own.

    In a few years he left the ministry for work in the Hospice Industry as Kuebler-Ross has flared it into flame during those 70s of full experimentation on human sensuality.

    His talent charmed me like a snake and although my brain said it was wrong to make so many changes and not to care how many members we lost, I had to see where all this was going. I was young and belonged to the immortal cohort who weren’t to trust anyone over 30. It was new, it was different.

    His talent and his compulsion to find and be his “real” self ultimately lead him to leave his wife and family, move far away, and contract a lethal disease. I still love him and his former wife, and I still keep in touch. That artistic compulsion drug him through a lot of mud so there had better be a trove of written music waiting for discovery when he dies, or his talent was just for himself and his close friends and not for the world. He’d be OK with that. I would not, but my role was always to watch and listen as the lives of many, with many a tear, struggled to survive his passion.

    And tODD, my talented friend’s talent included being a deep reader of the human heart in that he was able to get people to let him implement so many of his ideas. We all still love and admire him as spectators, but we have to be careful of personal contact. He’s still a charming snake whose music can read your heart and take you down a path you didn’t see coming. This man has had a leading role in escorting the ELCA down its present path to universalism (a people’s church for America).

    I read like you do that only God knows the secrets of our heart. It’s those things that we think are secret but that we telegraph with every move, that artists often sense and repond to in us.

  • Joanne

    Up up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful ballooooooon.

    Most of us know that this happy, fun, 60s song is not a hymn in our hymnal, not even the green hymnal. But that doesn’t mean that one can’t create a hymn prelude on its pop tune.

    Recently a friend who attended the Springfield Seminary with another friend in the late 1960s, remembered to me that once at Springfield, our friend who was a talented musician, asked him to attend the next Sunday at the large German congregation down by the Capitol.

    My friend remembers that he did go and that our friend, who had a side job as organist in the big church on the big organ, did indeed play, during the service, a hymn prelude based on the pop tune, Up Up and Away.

    My friend’s comment was, “Well, you just can’t keep that much of a talent in a box.” And it seemed that no one at the congregation said a word about it. Our friend survived his youthful exuberance.

    I attended our friend’s church in Florida for about 5 years in the mid-1970s and step by small or large step, he completely remade that church to fit his talented capabilities. We formed a church group we named “The Human Touch,” and actualized every touchy-feely idea that passed our noses. Many dropped away as the church became more and more of a cult with a vocabulary all its own.

    In a few years he left the ministry for work in the Hospice Industry as Kuebler-Ross has flared it into flame during those 70s of full experimentation on human sensuality.

    His talent charmed me like a snake and although my brain said it was wrong to make so many changes and not to care how many members we lost, I had to see where all this was going. I was young and belonged to the immortal cohort who weren’t to trust anyone over 30. It was new, it was different.

    His talent and his compulsion to find and be his “real” self ultimately lead him to leave his wife and family, move far away, and contract a lethal disease. I still love him and his former wife, and I still keep in touch. That artistic compulsion drug him through a lot of mud so there had better be a trove of written music waiting for discovery when he dies, or his talent was just for himself and his close friends and not for the world. He’d be OK with that. I would not, but my role was always to watch and listen as the lives of many, with many a tear, struggled to survive his passion.

    And tODD, my talented friend’s talent included being a deep reader of the human heart in that he was able to get people to let him implement so many of his ideas. We all still love and admire him as spectators, but we have to be careful of personal contact. He’s still a charming snake whose music can read your heart and take you down a path you didn’t see coming. This man has had a leading role in escorting the ELCA down its present path to universalism (a people’s church for America).

    I read like you do that only God knows the secrets of our heart. It’s those things that we think are secret but that we telegraph with every move, that artists often sense and repond to in us.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Stephen: I do not subscribe to the romantic view of the artist! I’ve written extensively about this. Of course some artists are happy and some are sad -and the like. Kincade’s agony is not a matter of the artist’s “image” but of biographical facts that have been coming out and his self- destructive use of alcohol and drugs that killed him.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Stephen: I do not subscribe to the romantic view of the artist! I’ve written extensively about this. Of course some artists are happy and some are sad -and the like. Kincade’s agony is not a matter of the artist’s “image” but of biographical facts that have been coming out and his self- destructive use of alcohol and drugs that killed him.

  • Stephen

    Dr. Veith,

    I haven’t read your books, so I apologize if I misunderstand your point.

    I think you are misunderstanding me. Degree of agony=not being creatively actualized in proportion to ones abilities. That is what I hear your argument to be when you say “agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.” That would be the same as saying “Van Gogh didn’t actually make the art he wanted to make. He must not have because he was in so much agony. Therefore, what we have is less than what Van Gogh could have made had he had the opportunity.” What we end up with is a speculative labyrinth. No, what we have is art from a man who made the art he wanted and/or was able to make.

    Or, you (and Siedell) may be suggesting that Kinkade was stuck in an art hell of his own making, and we know this because he had such troubled personal history and died so horribly. Maybe, but there’s no way to know that these two things are connected, or even that the art he made caused him any kind of misery. It’s easier to believe that he liked making it because he made so much money! It sounds like in a backhanded way you want to put him on a pedestal in spite of any evidence that he deserves such praise. It’s interesting, but it just seems like head game.

    I’ll grant that it is perhaps true that an artist is only as good as their next piece, and so having the expectations of a brand hanging over your head may have caused him a degree of stress. But there are plenty of artists out there making piles of money in the same way who never suffer such misery. They like being famous, making money, having people like them, and producing the same stuff over and over ad infinitum. Peter Max, R.C. Gorman, LeRoy Neiman come to mind. Does that make them shallow as people? Not my job to judge that. We can ask what their contribution is, on what terms, and why though, and how much their work is shaped by the art market.

    Correct me if I misinterpret what you are saying.

  • Stephen

    Dr. Veith,

    I haven’t read your books, so I apologize if I misunderstand your point.

    I think you are misunderstanding me. Degree of agony=not being creatively actualized in proportion to ones abilities. That is what I hear your argument to be when you say “agony is going to be directly proportional to the creativity of the artist.” That would be the same as saying “Van Gogh didn’t actually make the art he wanted to make. He must not have because he was in so much agony. Therefore, what we have is less than what Van Gogh could have made had he had the opportunity.” What we end up with is a speculative labyrinth. No, what we have is art from a man who made the art he wanted and/or was able to make.

    Or, you (and Siedell) may be suggesting that Kinkade was stuck in an art hell of his own making, and we know this because he had such troubled personal history and died so horribly. Maybe, but there’s no way to know that these two things are connected, or even that the art he made caused him any kind of misery. It’s easier to believe that he liked making it because he made so much money! It sounds like in a backhanded way you want to put him on a pedestal in spite of any evidence that he deserves such praise. It’s interesting, but it just seems like head game.

    I’ll grant that it is perhaps true that an artist is only as good as their next piece, and so having the expectations of a brand hanging over your head may have caused him a degree of stress. But there are plenty of artists out there making piles of money in the same way who never suffer such misery. They like being famous, making money, having people like them, and producing the same stuff over and over ad infinitum. Peter Max, R.C. Gorman, LeRoy Neiman come to mind. Does that make them shallow as people? Not my job to judge that. We can ask what their contribution is, on what terms, and why though, and how much their work is shaped by the art market.

    Correct me if I misinterpret what you are saying.

  • Stephen

    So far I count three spellings of this poor guys name: Kinkade, Kincaide, Kincade. Are we all taking about the same guy?

  • Stephen

    So far I count three spellings of this poor guys name: Kinkade, Kincaide, Kincade. Are we all taking about the same guy?

  • Stephen

    My main point would be that agony or personal misery in anyone’s life can come from any number of things. It is not different for an artist than anyone else. I will only qualify that statement by the fact that artists tend to be people of great sensitivity – you know “telegraphing” things others miss. In this sense they can get very frustrated when that sensitivity is poured into their work and is not accepted, understood, or noticed. Is it any wonder an artist would let go of the need to define for others how they should receive their work? Allowing an audience to take from it what they want or need rather than basing their sense of satisfaction in the work on getting across some specific, delineated “message” can be a great relief for the artist.

    Oy, I feel like I’ve dug myself a hole.

  • Stephen

    My main point would be that agony or personal misery in anyone’s life can come from any number of things. It is not different for an artist than anyone else. I will only qualify that statement by the fact that artists tend to be people of great sensitivity – you know “telegraphing” things others miss. In this sense they can get very frustrated when that sensitivity is poured into their work and is not accepted, understood, or noticed. Is it any wonder an artist would let go of the need to define for others how they should receive their work? Allowing an audience to take from it what they want or need rather than basing their sense of satisfaction in the work on getting across some specific, delineated “message” can be a great relief for the artist.

    Oy, I feel like I’ve dug myself a hole.

  • Joanne

    http://www.markhilpert.com/

    I knew this artist as a boy, a somewhat sensitive boy. Riding his bike and fighting with his slightly older brother for his own space. Recently I learned of his death. And again it’s a case of, Satan murdered him at 38 with mental illness. That hurts me. I found his art online and find much that interests me, especially one particular crucifix that Mark calls Bleeding Light.

    Mark was a Lutheran pastor’s son and it’s no surprise to find religion in his art. And in my eye the religion is informed and has gravitas. I don’t know if I’d think that if I didn’t know him, though.

    That’s the rub with modern art, is the art in the artist’s work or in me in my ability to find something to connect to?

    For what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of Rembrandt. He so often seems to have a fuzzy focus in my eye.

    I hate suicide, especially when you see it coming and you fight it until the end, on earth. Mark’s parents and his brother have a pain now that will never go away in this life. You say to the one who wants to go, “Do you really want to die, or do you just want the pain to go away? What can be done to stop the pain?”

    Satan lies to you; he tells you no one cares, no one loves you. You won’t be missed, all in his wicked attempt to take our temporary pain and to make it permanent. I understand that Mark’s pain was hard to manage. Still, we fight the pain, not life itself.

    But it’s God’s determination about when is the best time for us to die. A miserable clam suffers from a grain of sand until someone takes the priceless pearl out. What was God’s plan for Mark?

    In my take on Van Gogh, he suffered from loneliness and mental illness. We get the pearls, he got the suffering.

    And if the artist’s works are telling us their inner pain, is it right for us simply to accept the art of pain or to intervene? It’s that Rohrschach aspect of modern art, we all see something different in the ink blots, er I mean the art.

  • Joanne

    http://www.markhilpert.com/

    I knew this artist as a boy, a somewhat sensitive boy. Riding his bike and fighting with his slightly older brother for his own space. Recently I learned of his death. And again it’s a case of, Satan murdered him at 38 with mental illness. That hurts me. I found his art online and find much that interests me, especially one particular crucifix that Mark calls Bleeding Light.

    Mark was a Lutheran pastor’s son and it’s no surprise to find religion in his art. And in my eye the religion is informed and has gravitas. I don’t know if I’d think that if I didn’t know him, though.

    That’s the rub with modern art, is the art in the artist’s work or in me in my ability to find something to connect to?

    For what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of Rembrandt. He so often seems to have a fuzzy focus in my eye.

    I hate suicide, especially when you see it coming and you fight it until the end, on earth. Mark’s parents and his brother have a pain now that will never go away in this life. You say to the one who wants to go, “Do you really want to die, or do you just want the pain to go away? What can be done to stop the pain?”

    Satan lies to you; he tells you no one cares, no one loves you. You won’t be missed, all in his wicked attempt to take our temporary pain and to make it permanent. I understand that Mark’s pain was hard to manage. Still, we fight the pain, not life itself.

    But it’s God’s determination about when is the best time for us to die. A miserable clam suffers from a grain of sand until someone takes the priceless pearl out. What was God’s plan for Mark?

    In my take on Van Gogh, he suffered from loneliness and mental illness. We get the pearls, he got the suffering.

    And if the artist’s works are telling us their inner pain, is it right for us simply to accept the art of pain or to intervene? It’s that Rohrschach aspect of modern art, we all see something different in the ink blots, er I mean the art.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #54,

    Thank you for your response and artist’s perspective. I’d like to follow up on one point.

    You said: “Yes, . . . there is a “must” for that artist, a personal imperative not to compromise. Loyalty to the idea and its execution is the goal. ”

    But what if that idea and its execution is bad or flawed?

    You said later, “All art is earthly kingdom and law. As such it is distorted by sin like everything else” That’s my point. We both acknowledge that artists, like everyone else, are corrupted sinners. Why, then, do we still speak of “integrity” and “loyalty” to an idea? What does “fear no art” mean? Perhaps we are speaking in the Platonic sense of an artistic “ideal” of perfection. That’s ok, I guess, but it seems to me that the world of art sometimes speaks of art in a very pagan way, almost as though the artist is a “medium” for some higher expression. (The word “genius,” after all, has at its root the idea of an attending/possessing spirit.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #54,

    Thank you for your response and artist’s perspective. I’d like to follow up on one point.

    You said: “Yes, . . . there is a “must” for that artist, a personal imperative not to compromise. Loyalty to the idea and its execution is the goal. ”

    But what if that idea and its execution is bad or flawed?

    You said later, “All art is earthly kingdom and law. As such it is distorted by sin like everything else” That’s my point. We both acknowledge that artists, like everyone else, are corrupted sinners. Why, then, do we still speak of “integrity” and “loyalty” to an idea? What does “fear no art” mean? Perhaps we are speaking in the Platonic sense of an artistic “ideal” of perfection. That’s ok, I guess, but it seems to me that the world of art sometimes speaks of art in a very pagan way, almost as though the artist is a “medium” for some higher expression. (The word “genius,” after all, has at its root the idea of an attending/possessing spirit.)

  • Dan Kempin

    To those who find Kinkade’s art so distasteful, what if I were to make the argument that he was better serving his vocation by providing work that served his neighbor–judging solely on the shallow basis of demand–than if he had labored away on “deeper” art that only a handful of people knew or appreciated? Which artistic choice is more loving?

    Which architect better served their vocation–Frank Lloyd Wright, who created a small amount of very beautiful homes, or the nameless architect of a despised “cookie cutter” development that allowed a large number of people to be comfortably and affordably housed?

    Perhaps it is wrong to place them in opposition. Perhaps the desire to create “higher” art is really the theology of glory.

  • Dan Kempin

    To those who find Kinkade’s art so distasteful, what if I were to make the argument that he was better serving his vocation by providing work that served his neighbor–judging solely on the shallow basis of demand–than if he had labored away on “deeper” art that only a handful of people knew or appreciated? Which artistic choice is more loving?

    Which architect better served their vocation–Frank Lloyd Wright, who created a small amount of very beautiful homes, or the nameless architect of a despised “cookie cutter” development that allowed a large number of people to be comfortably and affordably housed?

    Perhaps it is wrong to place them in opposition. Perhaps the desire to create “higher” art is really the theology of glory.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Perhaps the desire to create “higher” art is really the theology of glory.”

    No, not the desire to create higher art, but rather the desire to despise that which is not “higher.”

  • Dan Kempin

    “Perhaps the desire to create “higher” art is really the theology of glory.”

    No, not the desire to create higher art, but rather the desire to despise that which is not “higher.”

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 67 – As an interesting aside, Wright did make a concerted and serious attempt at making low-cost affordable homes for people – his usonian houses. They are/were essentially pre-fabbed concrete homes that be built in various configurations. Unfortunately, they were like much of Wright’s work, far ahead of its time. While Wright was developing the usonian concept, similar efforts were being made in Europe to develop low-cost housing for working class families; this was the start of the Bauhaus movement in Germany, the De Stijl movement and the French Modernism exemplified by Le Corbusier. I like the De Stijl stuff myself even though it is ideologically a semi-Socialist endeavor; the angularity, the cleanness, the crispness are aesthetically pleasing to me. I’m not sure how comfortable they’d be to actually live in, but they are fun to look at. And from an artistic point of view, several of the artists moved away from the Socialist ideology and embraced the vibrancy of a cosmopolitan urbanity perhaps best exemplified by one of my favorite artists/pieces: Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian. I especially like this modern take: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZp7ndjzf_k

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 67 – As an interesting aside, Wright did make a concerted and serious attempt at making low-cost affordable homes for people – his usonian houses. They are/were essentially pre-fabbed concrete homes that be built in various configurations. Unfortunately, they were like much of Wright’s work, far ahead of its time. While Wright was developing the usonian concept, similar efforts were being made in Europe to develop low-cost housing for working class families; this was the start of the Bauhaus movement in Germany, the De Stijl movement and the French Modernism exemplified by Le Corbusier. I like the De Stijl stuff myself even though it is ideologically a semi-Socialist endeavor; the angularity, the cleanness, the crispness are aesthetically pleasing to me. I’m not sure how comfortable they’d be to actually live in, but they are fun to look at. And from an artistic point of view, several of the artists moved away from the Socialist ideology and embraced the vibrancy of a cosmopolitan urbanity perhaps best exemplified by one of my favorite artists/pieces: Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian. I especially like this modern take: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZp7ndjzf_k

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan asked (@67):

    what if I were to make the argument that he was better serving his vocation by providing work that served his neighbor–judging solely on the shallow basis of demand

    Well, I would note that, on that same shallow basis, both pornographers and Joel Osteen are also serving their neighbors.

    So perhaps that isn’t a terribly good basis.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan asked (@67):

    what if I were to make the argument that he was better serving his vocation by providing work that served his neighbor–judging solely on the shallow basis of demand

    Well, I would note that, on that same shallow basis, both pornographers and Joel Osteen are also serving their neighbors.

    So perhaps that isn’t a terribly good basis.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – I’. not a big fan of any of those styles – in fact, I find Bauhaus quite loathsome. Although I would have to agree with you that there is an element of fun in “De Stijl”. Neomodern architecture is a bit better.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – I’. not a big fan of any of those styles – in fact, I find Bauhaus quite loathsome. Although I would have to agree with you that there is an element of fun in “De Stijl”. Neomodern architecture is a bit better.

  • Stephen

    SK

    I wrote a paper on Mondrian in college. One of my favorite stories is of him standing in front of an early Jackson Pollack at a Guggenheim show for emerging artists. Apparently he said something to the effect of “there’s something in that.” He died the year before the atom bomb and I always wondered how that might have changed his rather utopian ideals about art. Also, his father was a strict Calvinist minister. I wonder how that might have effected his views on “pure plastic reality.” Maybe some Kuyperian Neo-Calvinism going on.

  • Stephen

    SK

    I wrote a paper on Mondrian in college. One of my favorite stories is of him standing in front of an early Jackson Pollack at a Guggenheim show for emerging artists. Apparently he said something to the effect of “there’s something in that.” He died the year before the atom bomb and I always wondered how that might have changed his rather utopian ideals about art. Also, his father was a strict Calvinist minister. I wonder how that might have effected his views on “pure plastic reality.” Maybe some Kuyperian Neo-Calvinism going on.

  • Stephen

    His studio was very spare and he only owned like three books. One was by Krishnamurti. They say Mondrian was also a very good dancer and loved to go out dancing at night clubs in NY.

  • Stephen

    His studio was very spare and he only owned like three books. One was by Krishnamurti. They say Mondrian was also a very good dancer and loved to go out dancing at night clubs in NY.

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    This will be long and I may only pose more questions. They are largely rhetorical as things to consider. But this is good because I think it gets right to the heart of vocation. For starters, suppose we replaced everything that’s been said about art and artist with some other vocation and task. Would that clear anything up?

    “Why, then, do we still speak of “integrity” and “loyalty” to an idea?” Why not, because we are sinners? Is the point to strive not to be a sinner or to be faithful and hide our works in Christ? And how is one faithful in their vocation? Is it only functional or economic considerations?

    “Which architect better served their vocation–Frank Lloyd Wright, who created a small amount of very beautiful homes, or the nameless architect of a despised “cookie cutter” development that allowed a large number of people to be comfortably and affordably housed?”

    Why does there need to be “better?” Why can’t it be both? Should artists strive for some kind of normalcy, stasis or egalitarian functionality, let alone inoffensiveness, in what they make? Are those even realistic goals? Why is it necessary to require art to meet a dogmatic set of criteria? I’m not saying that art cannot or isn’t often very dogmatic, but on what terms should it be so?
    Ironically, your example of Wright is a good one. Here is someone (yes, a genius) who fused the functional and the beautiful. He was a modernist in the fullest sense of the term, and in some ways, the granddaddy of all that purely functional stuff in your opposing example. Is it the quantity, or lack, of his work that makes it worthwhile?

    Yes, putting those examples in opposition is incorrect I think. The modernist credo “form follows function” was not disregarded in Wright’s buildings. They work on many levels. They function as homes. And they are also flawed. I think it is also incorrect to suggest that any artist who strives to do the best work possible is chasing some “theology of glory.” Maybe they are trying to do the best work possible, period. To what degree we fault them for that is no different than anyone else who strives for the same thing.
    I won’t disagree that artists spiritualize what they do. To move this into another sphere; I suspect that pastors do this too. Is a pastor’s loyalty to doctrine, perhaps at the expense of alienating people, a matter of gospel or is it law? It can’t be both, can it? Is there something unique about being a pastor besides the actual requirements of the job – be faithful to doctrine, preach law and gospel, teach, baptize, etc. – than the call to doing anything else? To what degree is it your job to be inoffensive, “welcoming” or purely functionary? To suggest you are not going to do any of those things without sinning/failing would mean there is not an actual, time and space and culturally bound person doing them. I’m being serious.

    Think of the apocryphal story about Luther and the shoemaker. What should the shoemaker do now that he is a good Christian? Make a good shoe is Luther’s reply. Does that mean one that functions well only, or is it also to make one that people will actually desire to wear? Will he make bad shoes sometimes? Probably. Should he experiment? Maybe. Will he ever make a perfect shoe? No. Some will work as shoes better than others. For them to “work” implies more than functionality. Shoes imply feet. Art implies an audience. What does a shoemaker owe to feet? What does an artist owe to an audience? Depends. That may be too ambiguous, but that may be the best you can expect from anyone’s work.

    Honesty and integrity do matter in our vocations, wouldn’t you agree? Art, like preaching, does not happen in a vacuum. God works through means. Vocation is a means by which God supplies our needs. One of those needs is for art of all kinds, on many levels – intellectual, visceral, emotional, as balm, enjoyment, challenge, inspiration, etc.

    “But what if that idea and its execution is bad or flawed?”

    Then, I’ d suspect, it will have no cultural legs to stand on and fade away. You said “idea and execution” for a reason I’m guessing. I think the problem people have with Kinkade is that it lacks the former in some depth or imagination. But then it is hard to deny the latter – he had some skill. A lot of people like that. Being popular is not a bad thing. Is it a necessary value for art? How important is it to be liked in your own vocation – some, a lot? Measure that against the duties of the job. There are always course corrections, and we are dealing with people not monads bumping into objects. We are, after all, talking about the humanities.
    Look up Richard Serra’s Tilted Arch and follow that story through. I like his work, but then there are differing ideas of what art ought to do. That story is a good example of how that stuff gets worked out. At some point, it becomes not about the art at all, but all the things we bring to it.

    I think we must always consider context when considering the value we place on works of art, a value which is always related to any number of other factors. If we didn’t do that there are a number of liturgical traditions we’d get rid of I suspect. Hymns? We like them formally, for one thing, because they are familiar. Singing them feels faithful. But if most people aren’t comfortable with that style of music, is it useful? In which case, would that make hymns bad art for preaching? They may have faded into irrelevancy, but why call them bad? In 100 years will they be heard as quaint, turgid, dull, or will they seem fresh?
    I think it is important to remember that the resolutions to these kinds of questions regarding art and its uses are not eternal ones. And I mean that in its law/gospel sense. If there were such answers, artists could perform work that satisfied the longings of every human heart and proclivity, always and in every way for the good. And that would be to suggest we can “do the law.” No Christ needed. Like I said, artists need forgiveness. I think also that because art is a distillation of life (our temporal existence) we expect to find Life (capital L) in it. That is the idolatrous nature of everything we do. We confuse that all the time. We spiritualize what we do thinking it has some redemptive quality. We do this with the institution of the family or with our politics or even with our church institutions, thinking that we can somehow manage the whole business into something that will relieve us of sin. It is to become “blind and arrogant” and “false saints” as it says in Smalcald Part 3, Art. 2. Art and artists suffer from the same kinds of things to be sure. It wasn’t the image of the snake lifted up that was idolatrous; it was that the Israelites began to worship the object itself. Hence, the prohibition against graven images. I’m not denying that here is a danger there. Enthusiasms abound. And yet what does Jesus give us in the Gospel of John but that same image to show (or is it tell?) us what he’s all about.

    Do we revere art objects too much? Perhaps, but in general I don’t think so. I don’t think that is the worst of our materialism. The .001% of artists who are celebrities are glorified, it’s true. But seeking to have certain people embody the aspirations of a culture is nothing new. I hear a ring in this essay that art has power to redeem when done right. “Oh, if he’d only had better religion to mix with his paint.” No Christ is needed for this kind of false piety. Art is not sacrament, but it is a means. Just like a smile from a stranger, or someone who makes your head spin with a statement from out of the blue that is both true and difficult to hear, art can be a means for God to get to us with his goodness.

    I get the sense, and correct me if I’m wrong, that when you say “bad” you are talking primarily in moral terms. If that is your concern, then I would say that the moral criteria for art are shaped by a work’s history within a culture – its context. Is that ever transgressed? Sure. Should it be, at times, transgressive. I think so. The world is not right. Art can show that. That can be its function as a vehicle of law, whether an artist brings to it that specific theological intent or not. The same goes for formal criteria. That is where we get into things like taste and what we “like” or expect from art. Is that ever transgressed? Sure. Should it be? That is often how art is able to speak to its time. It requires a breaking down and building up again. Forms give signals, sometimes overt and sometimes tacit, and signals are important. Why pews instead of individual seats? This convention is all about a form that implies something about us, bodily, that the church wishes to encourage.

    What is the difference between listening to music, giving it your full attention, as opposed to some musical wallpaper that plays in the background while you brush your teeth? We all have different needs in that regard. Is it fair to judge how “good” Pollack or Twombley or Judd are as visual artists without spending some time in the presence of these works, learning about how they came to be and taking them in on those terms? Is it fair to judge classical music without spending some time learning about it, where it comes from and how it fits with other music in history? My answer is “maybe and maybe not.” It depends on what needs you are asking it to meet and likewise, what your tolerance is for things that are strange or new or unfamiliar. If you are asking art to meet some set of expectations of good and bad, whether aesthetic or moral or both, then be honest about what those criteria are and/or get to know the work before you dismiss it on face value.
    I would think (expect) that Lutherans in particular would be able to live with a great deal of ambiguity and paradox. It is imbedded in our theology and confession of faith. So, in that regard, I will relate a personal story to help illustrate what I’m talking about.

    We started going to a new church for logistical reasons, and I saw something that struck me “visually” in just this way. The early service is where they’ve relegated the traditional Divine Service. That’s what I prefer and want my children to learn. You’d perhaps think I’d like all for the guitars and what not, but not so much. Anyway, we were singing the liturgy from the old hymnal, and I looked over and saw this guy with long hair and tattoos up both arms to his neck. He knew it as well as I did. And he went up for communion. Afterwards I saw him by his truck smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t able to introduce myself, but I had to smile inside at the sight of him. In my tradition, in my theology, in our corporate confession of faith in Jesus Christ, that guy doesn’t need to change a thing about “who he is” to be loved by God and have the assurance and comfort of his baptism. He only needs faith. It was that simple. The only law regarding a guy with tattoos in church might be if his appearance was disruptive in some way, but then that is not the point of the image for me. That is my church. It’s not about tolerance or conformity. Though those may matter from time to time, they are not eternal. Instead, seeing that guy was for me a preaching of the mercy of God hidden in the cross. Does that seem silly?

    Picasso said that art is a lie that shows us the truth. That is practically a law/gospel statement. Art has an experiential and reflexive character that throws us back on ourselves, just like good preaching of the law. And there is no life in a lie, yet it is in the experience of being deceived that we are open to Truth itself. From there, only the revelation of Scripture is any help in providing the answer.

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    This will be long and I may only pose more questions. They are largely rhetorical as things to consider. But this is good because I think it gets right to the heart of vocation. For starters, suppose we replaced everything that’s been said about art and artist with some other vocation and task. Would that clear anything up?

    “Why, then, do we still speak of “integrity” and “loyalty” to an idea?” Why not, because we are sinners? Is the point to strive not to be a sinner or to be faithful and hide our works in Christ? And how is one faithful in their vocation? Is it only functional or economic considerations?

    “Which architect better served their vocation–Frank Lloyd Wright, who created a small amount of very beautiful homes, or the nameless architect of a despised “cookie cutter” development that allowed a large number of people to be comfortably and affordably housed?”

    Why does there need to be “better?” Why can’t it be both? Should artists strive for some kind of normalcy, stasis or egalitarian functionality, let alone inoffensiveness, in what they make? Are those even realistic goals? Why is it necessary to require art to meet a dogmatic set of criteria? I’m not saying that art cannot or isn’t often very dogmatic, but on what terms should it be so?
    Ironically, your example of Wright is a good one. Here is someone (yes, a genius) who fused the functional and the beautiful. He was a modernist in the fullest sense of the term, and in some ways, the granddaddy of all that purely functional stuff in your opposing example. Is it the quantity, or lack, of his work that makes it worthwhile?

    Yes, putting those examples in opposition is incorrect I think. The modernist credo “form follows function” was not disregarded in Wright’s buildings. They work on many levels. They function as homes. And they are also flawed. I think it is also incorrect to suggest that any artist who strives to do the best work possible is chasing some “theology of glory.” Maybe they are trying to do the best work possible, period. To what degree we fault them for that is no different than anyone else who strives for the same thing.
    I won’t disagree that artists spiritualize what they do. To move this into another sphere; I suspect that pastors do this too. Is a pastor’s loyalty to doctrine, perhaps at the expense of alienating people, a matter of gospel or is it law? It can’t be both, can it? Is there something unique about being a pastor besides the actual requirements of the job – be faithful to doctrine, preach law and gospel, teach, baptize, etc. – than the call to doing anything else? To what degree is it your job to be inoffensive, “welcoming” or purely functionary? To suggest you are not going to do any of those things without sinning/failing would mean there is not an actual, time and space and culturally bound person doing them. I’m being serious.

    Think of the apocryphal story about Luther and the shoemaker. What should the shoemaker do now that he is a good Christian? Make a good shoe is Luther’s reply. Does that mean one that functions well only, or is it also to make one that people will actually desire to wear? Will he make bad shoes sometimes? Probably. Should he experiment? Maybe. Will he ever make a perfect shoe? No. Some will work as shoes better than others. For them to “work” implies more than functionality. Shoes imply feet. Art implies an audience. What does a shoemaker owe to feet? What does an artist owe to an audience? Depends. That may be too ambiguous, but that may be the best you can expect from anyone’s work.

    Honesty and integrity do matter in our vocations, wouldn’t you agree? Art, like preaching, does not happen in a vacuum. God works through means. Vocation is a means by which God supplies our needs. One of those needs is for art of all kinds, on many levels – intellectual, visceral, emotional, as balm, enjoyment, challenge, inspiration, etc.

    “But what if that idea and its execution is bad or flawed?”

    Then, I’ d suspect, it will have no cultural legs to stand on and fade away. You said “idea and execution” for a reason I’m guessing. I think the problem people have with Kinkade is that it lacks the former in some depth or imagination. But then it is hard to deny the latter – he had some skill. A lot of people like that. Being popular is not a bad thing. Is it a necessary value for art? How important is it to be liked in your own vocation – some, a lot? Measure that against the duties of the job. There are always course corrections, and we are dealing with people not monads bumping into objects. We are, after all, talking about the humanities.
    Look up Richard Serra’s Tilted Arch and follow that story through. I like his work, but then there are differing ideas of what art ought to do. That story is a good example of how that stuff gets worked out. At some point, it becomes not about the art at all, but all the things we bring to it.

    I think we must always consider context when considering the value we place on works of art, a value which is always related to any number of other factors. If we didn’t do that there are a number of liturgical traditions we’d get rid of I suspect. Hymns? We like them formally, for one thing, because they are familiar. Singing them feels faithful. But if most people aren’t comfortable with that style of music, is it useful? In which case, would that make hymns bad art for preaching? They may have faded into irrelevancy, but why call them bad? In 100 years will they be heard as quaint, turgid, dull, or will they seem fresh?
    I think it is important to remember that the resolutions to these kinds of questions regarding art and its uses are not eternal ones. And I mean that in its law/gospel sense. If there were such answers, artists could perform work that satisfied the longings of every human heart and proclivity, always and in every way for the good. And that would be to suggest we can “do the law.” No Christ needed. Like I said, artists need forgiveness. I think also that because art is a distillation of life (our temporal existence) we expect to find Life (capital L) in it. That is the idolatrous nature of everything we do. We confuse that all the time. We spiritualize what we do thinking it has some redemptive quality. We do this with the institution of the family or with our politics or even with our church institutions, thinking that we can somehow manage the whole business into something that will relieve us of sin. It is to become “blind and arrogant” and “false saints” as it says in Smalcald Part 3, Art. 2. Art and artists suffer from the same kinds of things to be sure. It wasn’t the image of the snake lifted up that was idolatrous; it was that the Israelites began to worship the object itself. Hence, the prohibition against graven images. I’m not denying that here is a danger there. Enthusiasms abound. And yet what does Jesus give us in the Gospel of John but that same image to show (or is it tell?) us what he’s all about.

    Do we revere art objects too much? Perhaps, but in general I don’t think so. I don’t think that is the worst of our materialism. The .001% of artists who are celebrities are glorified, it’s true. But seeking to have certain people embody the aspirations of a culture is nothing new. I hear a ring in this essay that art has power to redeem when done right. “Oh, if he’d only had better religion to mix with his paint.” No Christ is needed for this kind of false piety. Art is not sacrament, but it is a means. Just like a smile from a stranger, or someone who makes your head spin with a statement from out of the blue that is both true and difficult to hear, art can be a means for God to get to us with his goodness.

    I get the sense, and correct me if I’m wrong, that when you say “bad” you are talking primarily in moral terms. If that is your concern, then I would say that the moral criteria for art are shaped by a work’s history within a culture – its context. Is that ever transgressed? Sure. Should it be, at times, transgressive. I think so. The world is not right. Art can show that. That can be its function as a vehicle of law, whether an artist brings to it that specific theological intent or not. The same goes for formal criteria. That is where we get into things like taste and what we “like” or expect from art. Is that ever transgressed? Sure. Should it be? That is often how art is able to speak to its time. It requires a breaking down and building up again. Forms give signals, sometimes overt and sometimes tacit, and signals are important. Why pews instead of individual seats? This convention is all about a form that implies something about us, bodily, that the church wishes to encourage.

    What is the difference between listening to music, giving it your full attention, as opposed to some musical wallpaper that plays in the background while you brush your teeth? We all have different needs in that regard. Is it fair to judge how “good” Pollack or Twombley or Judd are as visual artists without spending some time in the presence of these works, learning about how they came to be and taking them in on those terms? Is it fair to judge classical music without spending some time learning about it, where it comes from and how it fits with other music in history? My answer is “maybe and maybe not.” It depends on what needs you are asking it to meet and likewise, what your tolerance is for things that are strange or new or unfamiliar. If you are asking art to meet some set of expectations of good and bad, whether aesthetic or moral or both, then be honest about what those criteria are and/or get to know the work before you dismiss it on face value.
    I would think (expect) that Lutherans in particular would be able to live with a great deal of ambiguity and paradox. It is imbedded in our theology and confession of faith. So, in that regard, I will relate a personal story to help illustrate what I’m talking about.

    We started going to a new church for logistical reasons, and I saw something that struck me “visually” in just this way. The early service is where they’ve relegated the traditional Divine Service. That’s what I prefer and want my children to learn. You’d perhaps think I’d like all for the guitars and what not, but not so much. Anyway, we were singing the liturgy from the old hymnal, and I looked over and saw this guy with long hair and tattoos up both arms to his neck. He knew it as well as I did. And he went up for communion. Afterwards I saw him by his truck smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t able to introduce myself, but I had to smile inside at the sight of him. In my tradition, in my theology, in our corporate confession of faith in Jesus Christ, that guy doesn’t need to change a thing about “who he is” to be loved by God and have the assurance and comfort of his baptism. He only needs faith. It was that simple. The only law regarding a guy with tattoos in church might be if his appearance was disruptive in some way, but then that is not the point of the image for me. That is my church. It’s not about tolerance or conformity. Though those may matter from time to time, they are not eternal. Instead, seeing that guy was for me a preaching of the mercy of God hidden in the cross. Does that seem silly?

    Picasso said that art is a lie that shows us the truth. That is practically a law/gospel statement. Art has an experiential and reflexive character that throws us back on ourselves, just like good preaching of the law. And there is no life in a lie, yet it is in the experience of being deceived that we are open to Truth itself. From there, only the revelation of Scripture is any help in providing the answer.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #70,

    Clever riposte, but you avoid my question.

    How does an artist serve his (or her) vocation? Is an unsuccessful artist really doing anything to serve his neighbor?

    Or are you literally saying that Kinkade’s paintings are as harmful as porn or as dangerous as false doctrine? If so, I would appreciate an explanation, because that seems rather far fetched to me.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #70,

    Clever riposte, but you avoid my question.

    How does an artist serve his (or her) vocation? Is an unsuccessful artist really doing anything to serve his neighbor?

    Or are you literally saying that Kinkade’s paintings are as harmful as porn or as dangerous as false doctrine? If so, I would appreciate an explanation, because that seems rather far fetched to me.

  • Stephen

    “Is an unsuccessful artist really doing anything to serve his neighbor?”

    Are all things measured economically? A painting only needs one wall to hang on. Does it matter how many people see it or if the artist is making his car payment with it before it has value?

  • Stephen

    “Is an unsuccessful artist really doing anything to serve his neighbor?”

    Are all things measured economically? A painting only needs one wall to hang on. Does it matter how many people see it or if the artist is making his car payment with it before it has value?

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #76,

    I raise this point to provoke thought in response to those who seem to imply that popularity invalidates artistry.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #76,

    I raise this point to provoke thought in response to those who seem to imply that popularity invalidates artistry.

  • Stephen

    Dan @ 77

    Okay. I get that. I’d say it doesn’t matter either way on any essential level in judging a work of art. Are you sure that isn’t a straw man though? Is that all that is being said?

    I read earlier today in the Smalcald Articles (I think) about how an arms dealer can be a Christian vocation. Guns should shoot, and accurately. Different calibers for different kinds of targets. That is the inherent law of weaponry.

  • Stephen

    Dan @ 77

    Okay. I get that. I’d say it doesn’t matter either way on any essential level in judging a work of art. Are you sure that isn’t a straw man though? Is that all that is being said?

    I read earlier today in the Smalcald Articles (I think) about how an arms dealer can be a Christian vocation. Guns should shoot, and accurately. Different calibers for different kinds of targets. That is the inherent law of weaponry.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@75), to appropriate your own words from a different reply (@77), my sole point (@70) was to provoke thought in response to those who seem to imply that popularity validates artistry (@67).

    Noah was a prophet who singularly failed to save any of his neighbors from the Flood (though he did at least save his immediate family). Did he do anything so serve his neighbors or not?

    I’m just trying to move us (i.e., you) away from the notion of economic success (i.e., selling units) as a metric for determining love for neighbors.

    Soul-damaging tripe sold to millions of adoring fans is still soul-damaging tripe. The purest Gospel proclaimed to people who don’t want to hear it is still Gospel. A cup of water given to a man dying of thirst, who refuses it, is still an act of love for him, and a cup of deliciously sweet antifreeze, served to a child who laps it up, is still not an act of love, no matter how many other kids scream “Me too!”

    This is not, as such, a commentary on whether Kinkade is the cup of water or the cup of antifreeze.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@75), to appropriate your own words from a different reply (@77), my sole point (@70) was to provoke thought in response to those who seem to imply that popularity validates artistry (@67).

    Noah was a prophet who singularly failed to save any of his neighbors from the Flood (though he did at least save his immediate family). Did he do anything so serve his neighbors or not?

    I’m just trying to move us (i.e., you) away from the notion of economic success (i.e., selling units) as a metric for determining love for neighbors.

    Soul-damaging tripe sold to millions of adoring fans is still soul-damaging tripe. The purest Gospel proclaimed to people who don’t want to hear it is still Gospel. A cup of water given to a man dying of thirst, who refuses it, is still an act of love for him, and a cup of deliciously sweet antifreeze, served to a child who laps it up, is still not an act of love, no matter how many other kids scream “Me too!”

    This is not, as such, a commentary on whether Kinkade is the cup of water or the cup of antifreeze.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Stephen, your musings at #74 are excellent! And I never heard that Picasso quote – I love it!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Stephen, your musings at #74 are excellent! And I never heard that Picasso quote – I love it!

  • Stephen

    Thanks Klasie K! Can you guess it is near and dear to my heart?

    And tODD nails it. EVERYTHING in our day seems to receive its value in terms of an economic metric. The bean counters and marketeers are winning.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Klasie K! Can you guess it is near and dear to my heart?

    And tODD nails it. EVERYTHING in our day seems to receive its value in terms of an economic metric. The bean counters and marketeers are winning.

  • SKPeterson

    Kinkade styled himself as “the Painter of Light” but I think he was able to capitalize on the fascination of the general public for previous painters of light, such as the Impressionists, especially Monet. Kinkade was not strictly an impressionist, but his paintings evoke a certain fuzzy emotive response similar to the Impressionists still popular with the general public.

  • SKPeterson

    Kinkade styled himself as “the Painter of Light” but I think he was able to capitalize on the fascination of the general public for previous painters of light, such as the Impressionists, especially Monet. Kinkade was not strictly an impressionist, but his paintings evoke a certain fuzzy emotive response similar to the Impressionists still popular with the general public.

  • Stephen

    And isn’t it interesting that the Impressionists were not well-regarded when they came along. That stuff was avant garde. It’s all in how you look at it.

    I was trying to remember where I first encountered that quote from Picasso. I think it is on the title page to “My Name is Asher Lev” by Chaim Potok. It’s been about 20 years since I read it. Now there’s a great book about art and faith.

  • Stephen

    And isn’t it interesting that the Impressionists were not well-regarded when they came along. That stuff was avant garde. It’s all in how you look at it.

    I was trying to remember where I first encountered that quote from Picasso. I think it is on the title page to “My Name is Asher Lev” by Chaim Potok. It’s been about 20 years since I read it. Now there’s a great book about art and faith.

  • Fws

    Steven @ 74

    Fascinating.

    Now that was some serious
    Law and Gospel!

  • Fws

    Steven @ 74

    Fascinating.

    Now that was some serious
    Law and Gospel!


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