America’s Favourite Artist Dies, But Who Is He?

Unknown to the artworld but adored by the masses, pop painter Thomas Kinkade passes away

Disgracefully saccharine perhaps, but that didn’t stop Thomas Kinkade from becoming America’s best-selling artist, with his mass-produced paintings/prints fetching some $100 million a year, and thought to be in 10 million homes across the United States – that’s one in every 20 American home! The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000, and could be purchased from malls and the shopping channel QVC.

Kinkade’s sentimental paintings were and will remain to be a monumental hit with what American journalists are calling the ‘middlebrow’. According to his website, Kinkade ‘painted over 1,000 masterworks covering topics that include, cabin and nature scenes, beautiful gardens, classic cottages, sports, inspirational content, lighthouses and powerful seascapes, impressionists, and classic Americana.’ He rejected the ‘intellectual isolation of the artist’, it adds, choosing instead to  make ‘each of his works an intimate statement that resonates in the personal lives of his viewers.’

In the artist’s own words; ‘With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel.’ ‘I share something in common with Norman Rockwell and, for that matter, with Walt Disney’, he added, ‘In that I really like to make people happy.’

His business partner Ken Raasch, has been singing his praises: ‘I’d see a tree as being green and he would see it as 47 different shades of green’; ‘He just saw the world in a much more detailed way than anyone I’ve ever seen’. But this somewhat misses the point. Kinkade was not a good artist in the classical sense of the word, whose success derived from his supreme insight, no. But he was phenomenally good at what he did, speaking the language of ordinary people and making a buck or two in the process.

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