Saturday, April 07, 2012

Defense of Thomas Kinkade - without Irony

Thomas Kinkade is dead. His paintings were honest.
That's not something most critics would say. The gut reaction of most writers who would consider themselves (or, more to the point, that others would consider) serious critics is that he's pure kitsch. And not in a Jeff Koons social commentary re-contextualized kind of way.

But ponder this: When those same art critics go shopping for their own houses, more often than not, they find themselves and their families pulled towards houses and landscapes just like Kinkade's. Warm lighting, nice stonework. Pretty trees. A stream? Only in their dreams. This is what they want. Most do not look at Neutra/Eames/Johnson etc modernist glass boxes. They like rustic brick, lead glass windows, a curving stone path to the door.

A lot of us can sympathize with this. Our taste in paintings is nothing like our taste in homes. When we look at house listings, wouldn't we tend to skip over the abstract geometrics? The ones that stand out in their neighborhoods? Seem slightly off and uncomfortable making? Maybe the very features that would attract us to a painting on a museum wall.

So is Kincade more honest? Is he a "true artist" in the sense that he's pointing us to something we've internalized, but somehow cannot confront in a literal, verbal way?
That aesthetically, even those of us who consider ourselves sophisticated, or even enlightened, are still pulled towards imagery we completely reject as Art.

If Kincade does not represent that aspect of yourself and your view of what's beautiful- the part that would love to live in one of his scenes - then what Art does?

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