This article is not directly related to the Holocaust. Although, much of what is happening in today’s world is a direct result of the outcome of WW2, so let’s just go with it.
If you think you haven’t heard of Thomas Kinkade, you probably actually have. He’s the artist who painted the picture below. He’s the happy cottage guy. He is also the guy that the “art world” loves to hate.
Why does the “art world” hate Kinkade? His stuff is kind of sappy, but it’s not like he doesn’t have talent. And what could be more cozy than putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring an idyllic Kinkade painting? The hatred of Kinkade has little to do with his actual artwork and more to do with who he is and what he represents.
Who is Kinkade? Kinkade is no saint. He did have problems in his private life one of which, alcoholism, led to his untimely death in 2012 when he was only 54. However, Kinkade’s public persona was one of a born-again Christian, a patriotm and a successful artist. Most importantly, Kinkade was a White man.
Who did Kinkade represent? There are millions of Kinkade fans, so there is bound to be all sorts of people who like his art. However, most of his fans were just normal, decent White folks. Read on and you’ll see why an attack on Kinkade is an attack on White people.
Kinkade’s art is often accused of being kitsch. Kinkade’s daughter, Merritt Kinkade, wrote a response to this accusation in an article called The Kitsch Controversy. Instead of denying the label, she embraces it. From her article:
It is your right to stand in the elitist realm of high art, enjoy colorful expressionistic pieces, or collect garden gnomes. There is art for each individual preference. Kitsch art exists not to create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ dynamic, but rather it is inclusive and relatable. Some of the great talents such as Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol were considered kitsch, yet they are two of the most beloved artists of the 20th century. The more art can be accessible and embracing, the more individuals from all walks of life will participate in the conversation on art, meaning, and how it reflects ourselves and our culture.
Andy Warhol? The “art world” loves openly gay Andy Warhol. The same can’t be said for the more wholesome Norman Rockwell, however. And herein lies the problem. The “art world” doesn’t want decent (non-LGBT) White folks intruding on their space. For them art needs to be “vibrant” and “diverse”. Like this painting by a Jewish woman, Miriam Cahn, depicting what looks like child rape. (I have censored the image for the sake of human decency.)
How does the art world attack Kinkade’s White fanbase? Look no further than this quote from Stefany Anne Golberg (you may notice a last name pattern as you read) from her article Fade to Black:
Thomas Kinkade has often been likened to Norman Rockwell — that other American populist who painted scenes of a happier America that existed in a bygone age. Like Rockwell, some have said, Kinkade attracted Americans not so much with hope but rather with nostalgia, the sweet sorrow of loss. Yet Kinkade’s paintings are not nostalgic; they are simply unreal. If anything, they depict an America that has never existed, and will never exist. It is the fantasy that makes them so attractive.
That’s right, historically White America, your country has never had a happier time. It has never been great and for you it never will be. This cheery Christmas scene never existed. It’s all a lie and you should feel bad for liking this sick fantasy. Now embrace the diversity as you are racially replaced.
Speaking of Christmas, let’s look at what Nathan Rabin thinks about Kinkade in his scathing article, Commemorative Keepsake Yuletide Case File #152: Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage:
Kinkade calls himself the most controversial artist in the world, and arguably, he is both the most loved and hated painter alive. To his millions of adoring fans, he represents the triumph of populism and wholesome family values over elitism and intellectual snobbery, the victory of the heart over the mind. To his detractors, he represents the triumph of sub-mediocrity and the commercialization and homogenization of painting (I can’t bring myself to describe what Kinkade does as “art.”) … Kinkade’s detractors also dislike him because his work is fucking terrible, a maudlin, sickeningly sentimental vision of a world where everything is as soothing as a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold December day.
First I’d like to address how Rabin refuses to even call Kinkade’s work art, a view that is shared in the “art world.” To them Kinkade’s work isn’t art, but some photo from Nan Goldin’s birthday party is because there are gay people in it.
They say that art is supposed to challenge the viewer and invoke emotion. Thomas Kinkade succeeds at this with his fans, who find joy and inspiration in his work. Kinkade also succeeds at this with his critics, who are challenged to feel one of the strongest emotions: hate.
From the rest of Rabin’s statement you get the feeling that the “art world” hates things that are wholesome and pretty, which is true, but that is just part of it. Rabin calls Kinkade’s work a “triumph of populism.” Populism in America (at least for the time being) means White people. Kinkade himself once said, “I view art as an inspirational tool. People who put my paintings on their walls are putting their values on their walls.” There are a certain group of people, including much of the “art world”, that hate White values and the imagery that represents it. How many times have you seen the image below accompanying an article or a meme that demonizes the idea of a decent, White nuclear family?
In 2001 Susan Orlean (also Jewish even though it isn’t apparent by her last name) wrote a piece about Kinkade for the New Yorker called Art for Everybody. In her article, Orlean pokes fun at the “meek and awkward” first-time Kinkade buyers, using subtle language to paint them as naive rubes:
By then, it was midday. Several more paintings had been highlighted and taken away by their owners; Glenda was now sitting with a man and a woman, meek and awkward, their new painting, “Clocktower Cottage,” on the highlighting stand.”
“Is this your first Kinkade?” Glenda asked. They nodded. “Well, congratulations. Let me tell you a little about what is here. This is about the changes of time. You see, everything changes. The sky changes, and the clouds change, and life changes.” They leaned in so that they could follow Glenda’s finger as she pointed to details in the picture. “Do you see this?” she asked, resting her finger on the clocktower. “Here the clock says five-o-two, which is Thom and Nanette’s wedding date. And here are the initials ‘NK’ — that’s for his wife, that’s how he honors her. It’s his love language for her.”
They were transfixed now. Glenda took a brush and dipped it in the green paint, and then with quick, short strokes dappled the underside of a tree. It was just a touch, but the tree suddenly stood out from the other trees, and it seemed newly bright and full. “Wow!” the man said. He glanced at his wife and then back at the picture. “I hadn’t even noticed that before.”
Lastly we have RIP Thomas Kinkade, by Jerry Saltz. It was this article from which I lifted the Kinkade quote earlier. Saltz denies that the “art world” hates wholesome and pretty things and instead insists that Kinkade’s art is hated because it is “cliché and already told”:
The reason the art world doesn’t love Kinkade isn’t that it hates love, life, goodness or God. We may be silly or soulless or whatever, but we don’t automatically hate things with faith and love or that other people love. We’re not sociopaths. (Well, most of us aren’t.) The reason the art world doesn’t respond to Kinkade is because none — not one — of his ideas about subject-matter, surface, color, composition, touch, scale, form or skill is remotely original. They’re all cliché and already told. This is why Kinkade’s pictures strike those in the art world as either prepackaged, ersatz, contrived or cynical.
Thing is, I’m not buying your argument, Saltz. You can say it’s been done before about most art. Allow me to demonstrate:
Oh, what’s this? A biting satire about a rich and powerful nation? How many times have I seen that before? *Yawn* What’s that say in the blurb? He did a thing about Hitler begging for mercy? Well I’ll be! No one has ever had to guts to criticize Hitler before. What an absolute pioneer.
Saltz ends his piece with this:
Kinkade’s paintings are worthless schmaltz, and the lamestream media that love him are wrong. However, I’d love to see a museum mount a small show of Kinkade’s work. I would like the art world and the wider world to argue about him in public, out in the open. Kinkade once said his goal was to “make people happy.” I’m not sure if there’s anything to be learned from happy public reactions at a museum to Kinkade’s paintings, but I’m more than happy to, as he put it, test our values on their walls.
Once again, a person with a particular last name thinks that decent White people are wrong for liking what they like. How dare they! Saltz says there’s nothing to be learned from happy reactions to Kinkade paintings. Didn’t Saltz say something about not hating love, faith and god? It kind of sounds like you do hate those things, Saltz. He then snarkily says he’d like to test “art world” values on the walls of White people. What, like homosexual and ugly degenerate stuff? Or like little paint squiggles that are supposed to represent concepts that White people are supposedly too dumb to understand?
In the end, many of the attacks of Kinkade are just an attack on White America. And why attack White people? To answer that all you have to do is look at what he particular last named people are saying: