See, I was right all along. Thomas Kincade is the devil.(select quotes from LA Times article follow.)
In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depict Kinkade, 48, as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars.
Last month a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Assn. ordered his company to pay $860,000 for defrauding the former owners of two failed Virginia galleries.
Though the panel did not single out the artist in its fraud finding, it wrote that he and other Media Arts Group executives had created "a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust" with the couple, who have since divorced. The company, communicating through Kinkade and the others, often used terms such as "partner," "trust," "Christian" and "God" to convey a sense of "higher calling," the panel wrote.
The arbitration panel found that the company and Barnett, who ran a training program for prospective gallery owners known as Thomas Kinkade University, "painted an unrealistic and misleading picture of the prospects for success" and never warned potential investors of the inherent risks.
Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior also belies the wholesome image.
In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.
In testimony and interviews with The Times, Sheppard and other former employees said they often went with Kinkade to strip clubs and bars, where he frequently became intoxicated and out of control.
He is also accused of "ritual territory marking" outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. He declined to be interviewed for the article, but claimed the accounts of his behavior were "ridiculous" and "crazy allegations" driven by disgruntled ex-employees and lawyer-happy art dealers.
Even if I didn't hate his art almost beyond the power of words to describe, I would hate Kinkade the phenomenon:
Critics have described Kinkade's works — with titles such as "Sunset on Lamplight Lane" and "The Garden of Prayer" — as little more than mass-produced kitsch. But that has not deterred the multitudes who pay from a few hundred dollars for paper prints to $10,000 or more for canvas editions he has signed and retouched.
People pay $10,000 for prints? Are they insane? (Note: you can pay me $10,000 and I'll paint pictures on every wall of your whole house. Seriously.)
"It's mainstream art, not art you have to look at to try to understand, or have an art degree to know whether it's good or not," said Mike Koligman, a longtime fan who with his wife owns Kinkade galleries in San Diego and Utah.
No, I don't need an art degree to recognize both soul-sucking badness and cynical materialistic exploitation made all the more infuriating by the fake and self-conscious glow of Christian "wholesomeness." What exactly makes his work so "Christian"? That little fishie in the corner? The fact that he's always blathering on about how "Christian" he is? Well, that's the same logic that gets people to give GW Bush credit for being Mr. Super-Christian, and I don't buy it there, either. But, even if I thought Kinkade was the most righteous Christian dude since Martin Luther King Jr., it still wouldn't make his art any better.
Kinkade isn't one hundred percent without painting skill, I suppose. He has an ability to make things look fuzzy and light-filled, but -- okay, the best way to do this is to go and look at a painter I actually like who specializes in fuzzy and light-filled:J.M.W. Turner, "Keelmen Heaving Coals by Moonlight". And we'll compare a typical Kinkade offering, also alleged to take place at moonlight, "Moonlight Cottage." I'm assuming most people with eyes will instantly spot why Kinkade is a hack compared to Turner, but just because I like ranting, I will go on a bit. Kinkade's work, frankly, doesn't convince. The light is wrong, the colors are wrong, the angles are wrong, the depth of focus is wrong -- it doesn't look like anything. The more you look at it, the less real it seems. What kind of flowers are those? What time of year is it? Why is the sky that color when it's supposed to be night? Where is the vanishing point of the cottage? (Look closely at all his buildings: he simply doesn't do vanishing point perspective and covers it up by putting plants in the way.) His worlds are little theatrical sets without depth or context. They are fantasies. And that could be all right, in itself -- I like fantasies. But most fantasies exist to show us something fantastic, something that doesn't exist -- compare this painting of pretty dinosaurs which is, in color and misty feel, reminiscent of some of Kinkade's paintings. (Although it's a much more convincing landscape.) So, if Kinkade's work is best understood as fantasy, the question becomes, what is the fantasy?
It's a dead world defined mostly by what it lacks: people, animals, movement, conflict, meaning. It's soulless and spiritually void, which makes it ironic, yet typical, that he would be embraced by mainstream evangelical types. They really do want to enter the world of Kinkade's paintings: where it's just you and, presumably, God, where everything is peaceful and mellow and conflict-free because a neutron bomb has killed everyone else.
Okay, maybe the neutron bomb isn't a necessary part of the narrative.
Anyway, Kinkade is a soulless, virtually talentless, cravenly materialistic, hack. If you like him anyway, I want to be able to say, de gustibus non est disputandum, but I can't. You're incorrect. You don't like Kinkade. You have been brainwashed by marketing and will someday come to your senses and realize that what you thought was artistic enjoyment was simply your brain responding to a carefully placed hypnotic suggestion.
PS: I'm so sad that I missed this exhibit at Roq la Rue, PAINTERS OF BLIGHT:
Renowned and beloved as the "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade is America's best-selling fine artist. One who purchases a reproduction of one of Mr. Kinkade's paintings may elect to have their purchase brought to life by a Kinkade-trained Master Highlighter, who adds color and definition with oil paint, truly bringing the lithographs to "light." In that spirit, artists Jim Blanchard, Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley, Robert Hardgrave, Claire Johnson, Charles Krafft, Pat Moriarity, Erin Norlin, Marion Peck, Benton Peugh, Robert Rini, Bonni Reid, and Kipling West have highlighted pages from the Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light© with Scripture: 2004 Deluxe Wall Calendar, in their own distinct styles.