He would visit studio executives but also got to know all the homeless people in Los Gatos. He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.
proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim while saying "This one’s for you, Walt."
he openly groped a woman's breasts at a South Bend, Indiana sales event
Maybe not so much.
A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.
but holding that it is possible to make objective judgments is the superior position.
By and large, art critics consider Thomas Kinkade a commercial hack whose work is mawkish and suspiciously fluorescent, and whose genius is not for art but for marketing -- for creating an "editions pyramid" of his prints, each level up a little more expensive, which whips up collectors' appetites the way retiring Beanie Babies did. This view annoys Kinkade no end, and he will talk your ear off -- even talk through the company's strictly enforced one-hour interview limit -- about the ugliness and nihilism of modern art and its irrelevance compared to the life-affirming populism of his work. He will point out that he has built the largest art-based company in the history of the world, and that ten million people have purchased a Kinkade product, at one of three hundred and fifty Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries that carry his limited-edition prints, or through his Web site, or at one of the five thousand retail outlets that sell Kinkade-licensed products, including cards, puzzles, mugs, blankets, books, La-Z-Boys, accessory pieces, calendars, and night-lights. Last year, Media Arts Group had a hundred and thirty-two million dollars in revenues. It has been traded -- first on the Nasdaq, then on the New York Stock Exchange -- since 1994, making Kinkade the only artist to be a small-cap equity issue. He owns thirty-seven per cent of the company, which makes him, by his calculations, one of the wealthiest artists in the world.
Kinkade is forty-three years old. He has short, brushy brown hair, a short, brushy brown mustache, a chest as broad as a beer keg, and a leisurely and booming laugh. If you see his paintings before you meet him, you might expect him to be wispy and pixie-like, but he is as brawny and good-natured as the neighborhood butcher. He has the buoyant self-assurance of someone who started poor and obscure but has always been sure he would end up rich and famous. He is so self-assured that he predicts it's just a matter of time before the art world comes around to appreciating him. In fact, he bet me a million dollars that a major museum will hold a Thomas Kinkade retrospective in his lifetime.
.... Kinkade's commercial awakening occurred in 1989, when he formed Lightpost Publishing with a business partner, Ken Raasch. His paintings were selling well, but he decided that he wanted "to engulf as many hearts as possible with art," a goal that would be hindered by selling only original work. Instead, Kinkade opened a chain of galleries and began producing high-quality digital reproductions of his paintings on specially treated paper, which sold for a few hundred dollars each. A digital image could also be soaked in water, peeled off the paper, and affixed to a stretched canvas, so that it showed the texture of the canvas the way a real painting would. These canvas transfers could be sold as they were, or they could be accented with paint by a master highlighter or by a special apprentice to Kinkade ("Studio Proofs" and "Renaissance Editions") or by Kinkade himself ("Masters Editions"); the transfers now fetch anywhere from fifteen hundred dollars for the standard numbered editions to thirty-four thousand dollars for the prints that Kinkade highlighted himself. The originals were no longer for sale at any price, and the number of each edition was restricted, and the image was "suspended" once it was sold out.
.... People like to own things they think are valuable, and they are titillated by the prospect that the things they own might be even more valuable than they thought. The high price of limited editions is part of their appeal: it implies that they are choice and exclusive, and that only a certain class of people will be able to afford them -- a limited edition of people with taste and discernment.
"I created a system of marketing compatible with American art," Kinkade said to me recently. "I believe in 'aspire to' art. I want my work to be available but not common. I want it to be a dignified component of everyday life. It's good to dream about things. It's like dreaming of owning a Rolex and instead, you dream about owning a seventy-five-thousand-dollar print." In fact, a lot of limited- edition art is about dreaming; so many of the paintings portray wistful images of a noble and romantic past that never was, or the anti-intellectual innocence of fairies and animals, or mythical heroes who can never fail and never fade.
.... "Thom will go to a gallery, and twenty-five hundred people will show up," Fleming said. "He speaks for about thirty minutes, and afterward they come up to him and talk. It's very emotional, some of them are crying and saying, 'Here's how you have affected me.'" He paused and then gestured toward a large Kinkade hanging in his office. "We believe that the walls of the home are the new frontier for branding. Thom always says that there are forty walls in the average home. Our job is to fill them."
"Looking just at the paintings themselves it is obvious that they are technically competent. Kinkade's genius, however, is in his capacity to identify and fulfill the needs and desires of his target audience—he cites his mother as a key influence and archetypal audience — and to couple this with savvy marketing ... If Kinkade's art is principally about ideas, and I think it is, it could be suggested that he is a Conceptual artist. All he would have to do to solidify this position would be to make an announcement that the beliefs he has expounded are just Duchampian posturing to achieve his successes. But this will never happen. Kinkade earnestly believes in his faith in God and his personal agenda as an artist."
There's a new twist in the aftermath of the death of Thomas Kinkade, the artist called the "Painter of Light."
Attorneys representing his wife, Nanette, and estate have filed for a temporary restraining order against Kinkade's girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, to prevent her from disclosing information about him, Los Gatos Patch reported.
The publication said court documents from Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose showed that the attorneys said Pinto-Walsh had signed a confidentiality agreement on Feb. 25, 2011.
The documents also state that Kinkade died April 5, not April 6 as previously reported, Los Gatos Patch said.
The Patch said that when it interviewed Pinto-Walsh, 54, by phone on April 7, she said she had been with Kinkade when he died at his estate and had called 911. She told the Patch that she had been his girlfriend for 18 months and that he had been separated from his wife for a while.
Pinto-Walsh is still living in Kinkade's estate.
The order sought by the attorneys for Nanette Kinkade seeks to prevent Pinto-Walsh from making statements that criticize Kinkade or his wife and to prevent her from publishing anything concerning Kinkade, his wife or any of his companies.
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