April 7, 2012


Thomas Kinkade: 'Painter Of Light' Dies At 54 (ANKITA MEHTA, April 7, 2012, IB Times)

"There is no greater testament to Thom's mission that art be accessible for everyone to enjoy than the millions of Kinkade images that grace the walls of homes across America and around the world. Through a myriad of genres, Thom's ability to present his subject in an idyllic setting inspires the viewer to imagine the world full of beauty, intrigue, and adventure," according to Kinkade's website.

"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 meant by sharing the light," Kinkade said.

"I'm a warrior for light. With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel," Kinkade told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, a reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine.

His paintings, which are hanging in an estimated 10 million homes in America, were said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales.

A biography on Kinkade's website said the artist rejected "the intellectual isolation of the artist and instead, made each of his works an intimate statement that resonates in the personal lives of his viewers."

All great American artists are republican.  Mr. Kinkade was also a Republican.  Both are unforgivable to the Intellectuals.

American Scenes: a review of Thomas Hart Benton: A Life by Justin Wolff  (James Panero | April 4, 2012, American Conservative)

For over half a century, art history has tried to wrestle Benton to the ground. He was "the favorite target of leftist critics and proponents of abstract art." A goading antagonist, he often asked to be taken down. He went after the "coteries of high-brows, of critics, college art professors and museum boys." After fleeing New York for Kansas City in 1935, he ranted that Midwestern artists

lisp the same tiresome, meaningless aesthetic jargon. In their society are to be found the same fairies, the same Marxist fellow travelers, the same 'educated' ladies purring linguistic affectations. The same damned bores that you find in the penthouses and studios of Greenwich Village hang onto the skirts of art in the Middle West.

"His poor judgment, profanity, and belligerent baiting of any artist walking a different stylistic or ideological path scandalized New Yorkers, New Englanders, and Missourians equally," writes Wolff. "Over the years he opposed abstract art, curators, homosexuals, intellectuals, Harvard, New York City, Kansas City, women, and old friends like [Alfred] Stieglitz and [Louis] Mumford, to name a few." For a biographer who himself once dismissed Benton as a "conservative crank," Wolff has now written a keen critical recuperation, if not a defibrillation, of this unique American artist.

"We were all in revolt against the unhappy effects which the Armory show of 1913 has had on American painting," Benton once said of the seminal exhibition that first brought European modernism to New York. Benton represented the American reaction to this influence, an anti-avant-garde, but he came of age at the center of the vanguard of new art. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Academie Julien in Paris before settling into the progressive art circles of New York in the 1920s. Stanton MacDonald-Wright, the abstract painter, became a close friend. For 15 years he experimented with cubism, pointillism, and synchromism--or rather "wallowed in every cockeyed ism that came along," as he later admitted.

Benton the artist once said that Senator Benton--his famous namesake, known as "Old Bullion," who championed Western expansion--gave him "a kind of compulsion for greatness." In 1924, he visited his home state of Missouri to attend to his ailing father, Maecenas, who had tried to persuade him to pursue law. Following the trip he determined to seek out his own American path in art. Benton soon got over his "French hangover," according to the writer Tom Craven, and shed the "worn-out rags and fripperies of French culture" to "find himself as an American."

Thomas Kinkade Dies: Scholars Look at His Impact (Tom Jacobs, 4/07/12, Miller-McCune)

Interpretation can't stray too far from the homespun canon; Kinkade provides too many signposts, Rager says. "There is a direct tie between different symbols and their meaning in his work. An eagle means freedom. Clouds are thoughts of lost loved ones. The light, which is ubiquitous in his work, is supposed to be the light of God. This is very carefully spelled out in a lot of the literature" his dealers distribute. (Kinkade's representatives did not respond to a request for an interview.)

"Evoking spirituality without necessarily being programmatic is very appealing to people," adds Boylan. "Christians who look at Kinkade might see specifically Christian iconography. ... But a lot of non-Christians look at his images and see a generalized spirituality." "Generalized," of course, is a dirty word to many art critics and scholars, who argue that vagueness (like sentimentality) is anathema to real art. [...]

Which differentiates his work from that of Norman Rockwell, an artist he deeply admires and one who has received highbrow respect. "I feel [Kinkade] would hope for a similar kind of critical reassessment," says Rager, who doubts it will happen.

While the company that creates his prints and products has faced financial and legal difficulties in recent years, darkness doesn't appear in his paintings, ever. "That's the essential divide between people who respond to his work and people who don't," Boylan says. "It all comes down to: What part of yourself do you want to see reflected when you look at a work of art?"

Or, what vision of the world? "Kinkade's work participates in this vision that there was a world that was Edenic and perfect, and if we could only get back to that, things would be perfect again," Rager says. The world Kinkade -- who refers to himself as born-again -- portrays "is not in any way real. It's a pastiche of concepts from that Edenic past."

Boylan doesn't find that approach reflexively off-putting. "We can't have it both ways. We can't be in a country in which we say, 'Artists have to fight in the marketplace,' and then when an artist fights in the marketplace and finds success, dismiss them by saying, 'They're not my romantic ideal of a starving artist.'"

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Posted by at April 7, 2012 7:16 AM

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