In Defense of Thomas Kinkade


Okay, I’m sure some of you don’t know who this is. Allow me to illuminate.

Imagine every awful greeting card in the local Hallmark. Visualize terrible paintings lining church hallways, or the folksy chocolate boxes you buy your grandmother for Christmas. Envision the painting hanging near the bathroom of your local mall.

Those are the work of Mr. Thomas Kinkade. And yes, the carvings in the stalls have more artistic merit.

The carvings are only 99% stupid.

The carvings are only 99% stupid.

If this entry seems to be a rather personal and overdramatic rant, I’ll admit you’re half right. But know that his work is widely derided by the art community. A Kinkade has no real substance, existing for the sole purpose of appealing to the elderly (a lucrative market). Kinkadian “art” is right up there with Lawrence Welk and wicker baskets. To old people, the power of nostalgia can be intoxicating.

But I’ll explain the major thing I hate about Kinkade’s oeuvre. You see, one of Mr. Kinkade’s trademarks is over-luminescence, where he bathes everything in creamy, milky light. It’s supposed to evoke nostalgia (this translates as MONEY to Mr. Kinkade), but the end result makes every house appear to be internally combusting.

Or at least indoor Vegas.

Or at least indoor Vegas.

 His paintings are nothing but pastel sappiness, oozing of vaguely Christian themes and mass-production. There’s a reason they’re widely sold on QVC and showcased on early-morning infomercials.

To be blunt, the art world despised him. Past tense, because he died earlier this year. He was 54. He’s survived by a wife and four daughters. So yeah, start getting kinda sad. He died of “acute intoxication” of alcohol and Valium after partying all night with his girlfriend of 18 months. So yeah, he wasn’t a saint.

He also did a lot of Disney work. Take from that what you will.

He also did a lot of Disney work. Take from that what you will.

Anyway, back to my earlier point. Facebook and Twitter exploded with mockery and mourning. Being the internet, it was mostly the former.

“Lighting all six fireplaces in my tiny mountainside cottage in memory of Thomas Kinkade,” -@Livestock.
“I had no idea those awful mall paintings came from an actual person, I thought a factory in China made them.” -@Elizabeth Miller
“Pouring some malt liquor on a terrible painting in memory of Thomas Kinkade.”  -@Eli Braden

I laughed as I read through these. I’ve been a Kinkade cynic for years, so I’m all too familiar with his work. I enjoy laughing at the mysterious neon patches of grass, the gooey way he draws foliage and the disproportional doorways where Jesus waits for his cabin fire to dissipate. It’s kitsch, and there’s enjoyment to be had at the man’s expense. Schlock deserves derision, but it’s spectacularly unifying.

"Bambi, stop looking at the indoor solar flare! Your corneas, Bambi, YOUR CORNEAS!"

“Bambi, stop looking at the indoor solar flare! Your corneas, Bambi, YOUR CORNEAS!”

Then I saw this Tweet.

“Yeah,I LOVED making fun of Thomas Kinkade but he was a human being. This kind of reaction to his death is awful,” Tweeted @abnercadaver.

I love his username, but that’s beside the point.

Mr. abnercadaver hit the nail on the head. Thomas Kinkade was one of the more controversial artists out there (even he said as much), so it’s okay to dislike him. I even condone making jokes at his expense. But abnercadaver was right. There is no need to be cruel to him personally… even though he was apparently kinda awful in real life.

For the curious among you, he publicly groped a woman at an Indiana sales event. And he had a tendency to “mark his territory” when intoxicated. And lest we forget, he once got drunk at a Siegfried & Roy magic show and started screaming “Codpiece!” at the performers.

Honestly, I find that last point hilarious enough to improve my opinion of him… just a little bit.

But he couldn't even paint Vegas without oversaturation! No, be nice Justin, be nice...

OH GOD, THE BLOOM! No, be nice Justin, be nice…


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