Cranky Professor weighs in on Thomas Kinkade

Well, you don’t have a link to me, but I seem to be the only blogging Catholic art historian, so I have to say something about Thomas Kinkade (painter of light ™).

He’s bad.

Now I am the last to say that people who make money off art are bad – he’s a genius. The mall stores are great. The workshop system is great. The differential pricing plan based on how much paint T.K. himself applies to the canvas goes back to the Renaissance (Van Dyke was a master of this – his base rate for portraits involved him doing the face. He had specialists for hands, flowers, velvet, satin, landscape, wood grain, etc., but if you wanted to pay extra he’d do the whole last coat of highlights himself).

However, the pictures are banal. The light in the window? Please!

O.k., o.k., you can have pictures of dogs playing POKER if you like, but just because a picture of dogs playing poker looks like your mental image of dogs playing poker doesn’t make it good art. In fact, mere representation is not particularly good.

Oh, well. I’ll rant elsewhere. Hope your boyscout weekend went well.

(omigosh – don’t get me started on working his wife’s initials and a WWJD into every picture!)

Like I say, I don’t hold a brief for Kinkade. In the words of Cookie Monster, me not know art, but me know what me like. I like Kinkade. I also like Ding Dongs and I know they are not supreme examples of the culinary arts. What I find far more troubling than a harmless taste for Not Terrific Art or Food is the truly hellish pride and contempt that informs the work of the sort of people who enjoy peeing in the faces of ordinary people who find something lovely in Kinkade. Such “artists” have nothing *better* than Kinkade (indeed, they have nothing to say at all really. They are merely interested in negation.) The answer to Kinkade is good art, not satire. Satire is the first refuge of the untalented artist. Any idiot can paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Any fool can say “The masses are cattle.” It’s a rare person who can say (and paint) as though the masses are human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve art worthy of their awesome dignity.