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Thomas Kinkade

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Good observations all round. I refer you to Jacques Maritain's Art and Scholasticism (quoted in my sig), which might provide some of the definitions you are looking for. A brief book, but so densely packed with life-changing ideas that I could read only about a page and a half at at time.

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i just find that often kinkade is an easy target, perhaps one that is more indicative of a general shallowness within the christian sub-culture, which his work in some ways re-affirms. his art does what it does, and does it well. it just isn't very good, or rich, or lasting, or interesting. he has one note, but he has a note. the painter of light? i think ross bleckner is a painter of light. or rembrandt, natch. or vija celmins. but they have light with metaphorical weight, not a veneer. or sean scully (who once said, "to invest a brushstroke with emotion or meaning is a desperate thing"). give me ann hamilton any day (though many may not think her work is art-full). or antony gormley. or annette messager. or hieronymus bosch. or van eyck. or matthias gruenwald. or even andres serrano.

stpo. now, breathe.

Kinkade may do one thing very well, but that doesn't mean what he does is Art or even art. In as much as it is painting it is "art", hard to escape that, but it seems to me more about entertainment or recreation than art.

I like the Mamet quote tctruffin has in his(?) signature. I think it has relevance here:

"I like mass entertainment. I've written mass entertainment. But it's the opposite of art because the job of mass entertainment is to cajole, seduce and flatter consumers to let them know that what they thought was right is right, and that their tastes and their immediate gratification are of the utmost concern of the purveyor. The job of the artist, on the other hand, is to say, wait a second, to the contrary, everything that we have thought is wrong. Let's reexamine it."

--David Mamet, Salon.com

Glenn Kaiser has been saying lately (at least from what I've heard him say) that by default the artist is the modern day prophet. I think this is similar to Mamet.

Your criteria reminds me of Francis Schaeffer's four "standards of judgement" in his second essay in _Art and the Bible_: 1) technical excellence, 2) validity, 3) intellectual content, the world view which comes through and 4) the integration of content and vehicle.

While I find this and your list a very useful way to examine art and artists, I do not believe that you can use these criteria as the definition of art. I cannot see how one can avoid the affect of the viewer for the definition of art, especially if you echo Mamet's thoughts.

I partially agree with Mamet. Or maybe I'm not thinking of it deeply enough (wouldn't be the first time.) I do agree that good art can make me reconsider something. I also believe that good art can make me think further about something. Not so much that what I thought was wrong, but maybe what I thought was incomplete. Such as when a director stages a very intimate scene between two people with the actors on either side of the stage (and pull it off, of course). That played with my head for a long time!

We had a discussion similar to this at a Georgia dance panel meeting. Many there wanted to create an organization that supports all dance in Georgia. But some of us (can you tell which side I was on?) argued that "dance" in Georgia is fine. There is dance everywhere. Dance as _art_ in Georgia is what is having difficulty garnering support. The potential organization needed to focus its energy on a particular form/expression of dance. While there is benefit in people understanding dance in any form, certainly because of the person having a relational point of reference to help them understand what we are doing, we have to recognize that we have a different purpose than recreational dance.

Joe

Edited by jfutral

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Even with the brevity of that article, one gets the impression that the author was padding to fill space. While I resonate with what he says, it's a poorly-written piece.

To play Kincade's advocate for a minute, though - no painter paints the totality of human existence. No artist can even hope to capture "life as it really is". Someone (I wish I could attribute the quote, I use it all the time) said that all art is primarily selection. At most, an artist strives to accurately portray a slice of life - a brief perspective on life. OR, perhaps more precisely, to innacurately portray a slice of life - to exaggerate or distort a slice of life so as to show it for what it really is under the skin.

While I agree with the author - Kincade's work strikes me as saccharine, too - I wonder sometimes if that's a fault of mine and not Kincade's. I went through America's art instruction meat grinder. I absorbed many of the art world's prejudices and cynicism. If Kincade is trying to portray the good, or the pure, and through it to induce longing, maybe it's the jaded, fallen part of me that's reacting against it. The part of me that rankles at the thought of goodness and purity. The part of me that is comfortable in sin, and uncomfortable around righteousness. Dr. David Wells defines "worldliness" as that system around us that makes evil seem normal and righteousness seem odd. Maybe my artistic tastes are too "worldly" to appreciate Kincade's work.

But then again, theologically it's impossible for Kincade's work to be unfallen, even if it might be redeemed. Perhaps what rankles is not goodness, but the facade of false righteousness. Since it cannot possibly BE purely good, perhaps it rings false when he tries to pass it off as purely good.

I don't know. I do know that I grow uncomfortable whenever we trendy folks cast scorn on brothers in Christ for being un-hip. That elitist sense of "I'm in the in crowd, I've got taste and style" often defines itself by excluding others, putting them down. We in the art community are perhaps most prone to this sin. I try always to root it out in myself, and to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, I believe there is such a thing as objectively good art - there is a hierarchy of value in art that is not purely a matter of preference. So, I get hung on the horns of my own dilemma. My petard is a-hoisting. Who can rescue me from this body of death??

Even with the brevity of that article, one gets the impression that the author was padding to fill space. While I resonate with what he says, it's a poorly-written piece.

To play Kincade's advocate for a minute, though - no painter paints the totality of human existence. No artist can even hope to capture "life as it really is". Someone (I wish I could attribute the quote, I use it all the time) said that all art is primarily selection. At most, an artist strives to accurately portray a slice of life - a brief perspective on life. OR, perhaps more precisely, to innacurately portray a slice of life - to exaggerate or distort a slice of life so as to show it for what it really is under the skin.

While I agree with the author - Kincade's work strikes me as saccharine, too - I wonder sometimes if that's a fault of mine and not Kincade's. I went through America's art instruction meat grinder. I absorbed many of the art world's prejudices and cynicism. If Kincade is trying to portray the good, or the pure, and through it to induce longing, maybe it's the jaded, fallen part of me that's reacting against it. The part of me that rankles at the thought of goodness and purity. The part of me that is comfortable in sin, and uncomfortable around righteousness. Dr. David Wells defines "worldliness" as that system around us that makes evil seem normal and righteousness seem odd. Maybe my artistic tastes are too "worldly" to appreciate Kincade's work.

But then again, theologically it's impossible for Kincade's work to be unfallen, even if it might be redeemed. Perhaps what rankles is not goodness, but the facade of false righteousness. Since it cannot possibly BE purely good, perhaps it rings false when he tries to pass it off as purely good.

I don't know. I do know that I grow uncomfortable whenever we trendy folks cast scorn on brothers in Christ for being un-hip. That elitist sense of "I'm in the in crowd, I've got taste and style" often defines itself by excluding others, putting them down. We in the art community are perhaps most prone to this sin. I try always to root it out in myself, and to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, I believe there is such a thing as objectively good art - there is a hierarchy of value in art that is not purely a matter of preference. So, I get hung on the horns of my own dilemma. My petard is a-hoisting. Who can rescue me from this body of death??

Being a Christian who tries to display some of who I am under God through my art, , I have to say I really like your viewpoint on artists and how you judge them. I like the honesty and balance of yourself and trying to be straight forward with God basic system of judgment for us vs the worlds beliefs.

Cool.

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Thanks, Glow. Welcome to A&F!

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Reading that article reminds me of a gift of a Kinkade painting that one of our members gave us a few years ago. It was clear that the salesperson had convinced them that purchasing it and giving it to us as their pastor was somehow a "spiritual act."

Denny

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Lame.

Sad and lame.

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Suuuuuuuuure. Make us register, yes?

Takin' the mark of the Beast, are we? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

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Whoaaaaa, cool bypass site! Thanks!

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For what it's worth in a mostly quiet thread:

I've kept track of Kinkade a little for a number of years now, and this is my own deduction (though I haven't had the privilege of meeting and interviewing him).

An artist has the right to portray any subject matter (WITHOUT getting into any moral/amoral/consequences debate). Kinkade can paint what he likes and why he likes. I won't fault him on this.

From other interviews I've read I think his subject matter is a bit of a displacement. Some of his earlier work was much more explorative, as some of this thread has shown. But from things he has said about his college days I have wondered if he isn't using this glorified sentimentality to cover up some bad feelings.

I think he is more of a marketer than an artist. And I find it interesting he's proffering all of these prints in galleries across the country when he claims to be living the simple life. And this is just my idea of a simple life, but in a "simple life" I don't see people hanging mass-produced reproductions on their walls. Just an observation . . .

So to conclude:

He can paint whatever he likes

He might be using mushy subject matter to cover up old hurt feelings

Edited by Chashab

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But he's still downright creepy when it comes to his attitudes toward women! ::ninja::

Hmm. That I haven't heard anything about . . . did I miss something above in this thread?

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I read this article with this quote over the weekend:

Along with committing themselves to education and training in craft, artists who pursue making serious art must also commit themselves to setting aside commercial success as the primary goal of their artmaking.

Made me think of Kinkade . . .

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emphasis on primary...

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emphasis on primary...

I guess my implication made an assumption that I actually know what's going through his head. He may actually be this successful and not be (primarily) after commercial success <_<

Um, but, for some reason I really doubt that's the case.

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I think your doubts are well-founded, Chashab. ::gfish:: (the goldfish is for random silliness; for some reason I can't take things too seriously today!)

ha-HA!

Goldfish approved. We all need such lighthearted days from time to time.

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Just heard something similar on NPR.

Sad. But I can't say I'm surprised. The NPR story cites his drunkeness and an instance of grabbing a woman's breast, which has been mentioned already in this thread.

Is he the next televangelist of the art world? ::pinch::

Edited by Chashab

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So people don't buy Kinkade prints. Gallery owners do. And only under coercion. What a racket.

Edited by mrmando

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Since Kinkade is synonymous with Christian kitsch I thought I'd recommend an excellent book dealing with the topic. It is all too easy to sweep aside this sort of art--which I agree is aesthetically and often theologically horrific--with a smug attitude that does nothing to improve the situation.

Check it out

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Since Kinkade is synonymous with Christian kitsch I thought I'd recommend an excellent book dealing with the topic. It is all too easy to sweep aside this sort of art--which I agree is aesthetically and often theologically horrific--with a smug attitude that does nothing to improve the situation.

Check it out

Last night my wife pointed out how much of a snob I've been about putting Kinkade down in the past . . . put my foot in my mouth several times. I knew this, and we had a really good discussion about it (me being a snob, as much as Kinkade's painting :P ).

:Edit: I've changed my tune in the last couple of years, and not just about his stuff, but about all visual art in general. I (think) I'm coming to realize how much more mysterious so many things are, perhaps art in particular. Since high school, I've realized that the more I learn the less I know — I quote Is 55, "Your ways are higher than our ways," regularly. :Edit:

You're very correct about the smugness only being detrimental. I wondered in our conversation last night now I came to be such a snob (verbally disecting my college experience, remembering that I wasn't that way in high school) . . .

The book looks very interesting. I'm adding it to my wish list.

Edited by Chashab

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One of my church's pastors critiqued Kincade from the pulpit, basically saying that real life isn't all butterflies and waterfalls. We dwell in a land with shadows. Real life has shadows and real art should reflect that.

It was a good week. :)

This is a common saying among Christian writers addressing the arts of late

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Art as therapy?

Are you referring to how Kinkade is using his painting, or how my wife views Kinkade's paintings?

I honestly don't know anything about how art is used as therapy (other than that it is), and I don't think that's what my wife was meaning. But I can understand how you would think that. And FWIW, she finds it dorky some of how he markets the stuff, how he has his underlings add little tiny (acutely prescribed, it would seem) dabs of paint to the prints and then sells them for thousands more than the untouched prints

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Wow, this is a great thread -- probably my personal favourite on A&F. I am disappointed in myself for only just now finding it.

I found it interesting that (in the interview Christian did with him), Kinkade mentions Maxfield Parrish. The comparison will help me a lot, I reckon, in clarifying my own thinking. I want to think about why it is that I loathe Kinkade's work, but admire the work of Parrish. Part of it is simply technique, of course, but there is more hiding in this question than I can currently put a finger on.

Incidentally, I find that the writing of Jan Karon produces the identical effect upon me as the paintings of Kinkade. After reading two of Karon's Mitford books, I very nearly penned a spoof: Biker Chicks Invade Mitford. As far as I can tell, it is not because of a "part of me that rankles at the thought of goodness and purity" (see Post #6 in this thread, by CrimsonLIne), but rather that there is actually something better, weightier, more glorious, and more substantial about a gang of motorcycle girls ... than there is in anything in Mitford, be it ever so holy.

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I found it interesting that (in the interview Christian did with him), Kinkade mentions Maxfield Parrish.

:blink: Kinkade said that??? :blink:

I didn't read the entire interview when I first came across this thread in April. Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Parrish was an influence on Kinkade?

Yes. Yes, I can see that. In high school and college I loved Parrish's work. In fact I still very much admire it. What Kinkade does, um, could be influenced by Parrish. Of course, just because Kinkade is influenced by Parrish doesn't mean it HAS to come out in Kinkade's paintings either. But one could certainly make a case that it does.

Let's compare and contrast the two (this excercise is for me as much as anyone else here, but feel free to chime in!):

* We very rarely find figures or people in modern Kinkades. Parrish's works, at least 75% of them that I can remember, have people in them.

* When Parrish uses architectural or building elements, they are usually on a more human scale — that is, they are more integrated into the surface of the painting.

* While Kinkade's work does certainly have a sense of intimacy about it, Parrish's has much more of this sense. This could be because of his use of figures (and a number of them being nude — yet not erotic — certainly ads to a certain kind of a sense of intimacy.

* Parrish's work is much more whimsical. His colors, the settings and the subject matter are more fantastical — although not unbelievable. Some may border on the surreal, although I don't think I'd "officially" call any of them that I know of such. For as long as I can remember, I've found Parish's paintings a bit entrancing (Escapist? Hmmm.).

Adding: link

Edited by Chashab

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For what it's worth, I found this site to have a very useful analysis of Kinkade's paintings, including links to some of his works with which I was formerly unfamiliar. It contrasts Kinkade's earlier (and I think, better) paintings with the later ones (which made him much more money).

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For what it's worth, I found this site to have a very useful analysis of Kinkade's paintings, including links to some of his works with which I was formerly unfamiliar. It contrasts Kinkade's earlier (and I think, better) paintings with the later ones (which made him much more money).

Yeah, a few years ago my wife and I paged through a book of his in a gallery, and were very surprised to see some of his early work. We both like it better; in my case, I like it, where his present stuff comes across as the visual equivelant of greeting card verse, as the article you link to calls it. His craft is still good, but it seems that some of the imagination has gone by the wayside???

But like I said previously, I don't feel like I have the right to critique subject matter. I don't have time to read your link now (man it's long) but printed it off and look forward to reading it tonight.

Edited by Chashab

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