Thomas Kinkade: High or Low, Yes or No?
June 17, 2012 6:46 PM Subscribe
Painter of Light: Two Letters Worth $15mil, or more, Under Dispute (previously)
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The dark underbelly of Thomas Kinkade's life and work has been exposed in the latest battle between his girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, and estranged wife Nanette, over two letters. The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings, grant Ms. Pinto-Walsh ownership of the Monte Sereno mansion and $10 million to start a Kinkade museum there. The letters offer quite a contrast to the rest of Thomas Kinkade's work, all of which expresses a sugar coated fantasy world devoid of any darkness. He truly is, the Painter of Light
, yet darkness pervaded his life. He was deeply conflicted man
, who died April 6, 2012 at age 54
, from an accidental overdose
Kinkade's work is revered by many
, yet reviled by most who consider themselves cultured or part of the Artworld Establishment.
His was one of the most financially successful artist in US history; his works are estimated to be in ten million homes.
There are a few
in the art world willing to consider Kinkade
or even take him seriously
, if not all for the same reasons
. He considers himself heir to Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, while others compare him to more contemporary artists like Andy Warhol
, Jeff Koons, and Damian Hirst
. Like Pop, Post Pop, and Post Modern artists his works extend beyond the visual by referring to ideas about business consumerism and popular culture
. Kenneth Baker
, art critic of the SF Chronicle, tagged his art as Naive Postmodernism.
Artist and curator Jeffery Vallance curated Kinkade's only museum show
, Heaven on Earth
, in 2004.
Kinkade aficionados loved the exhibit, while the art critics were overwhelmed. “Many reviewers of the show followed a similar pattern,” Vallance recalls. “Most writers pretty much admitted that they loathed Kinkade and came expecting to hate the show – like gawkers at a train wreck. But then something happened. When they came to see the actual show, the kitsch was laid on so thick that something snapped in their brains. They experienced transcendence and ended up liking the show.”
And like it or not, any painter who can compel other artists to wear black armbands in protest of his work has already called dibs on posterity.
(SLYT) Morely Safer
interviewed Kinkade in 2001.
And as always caveat emptor, if you are interested in buying any of Kinkade's work. WaPo has a guide: Thomas Kinkade paintings selling swiftly: What buyers should know