Wednesday, August 01, 2007

UPDATED: Thomas Kinkaaaaaade the Painter of Liiiiiiiiiight

With a tip of the bicycle helmet to Sopwith Camel!*

Because I have no sense I am going to take on one of the 'big' questions and answer it definitively.

So then. What is art?

A creation by a human with something detectably human about it...evidence of the creators hand and thought that registers beyond the immediate sensory impression.

I don't make distinctions between high art and low art because that's deeply fucking repulsive. There isn't one. It all comes down to a question of 'does it communicate something beyond its apparent form?'
It really isn't any more complicated than this.

Now that we have that little issue cleared up, what about those so-called artists who give the whole effort a black eye? Whose work is so bad, so irresponsible, so contemptuously produced that it makes baby Jesus cry?
What is BAD art?

Let's ask a hamster!

guest deceased hamster Bluto Schmuggleware, recently gone to his reward via an overdose of amyl nitrate, yet STILL completely without odor. Call the pope!

"Mr. Schmuggleware, define 'bad art'.

A guy named Arthur with a police record.

"Your attempt at levity has not added anything to the intellectual tone of this inquiry. Bad art is...?

Listen, I mainly look at the ladies. You keep asking me to critique this shit and-

OK. Now that's BAD.

Let's interrupt this for a moment and check on Baby Jesus:

...stone trippin.

Ok. Now let's go on.

"...Philistine; that is the work of internationally renowned Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light! He creates some of the most sought-after images of our time!

Fine; I'm just saying that I've had bad gas in public restrooms with better wallpaper. That includes the graffiti.

"You cannot tell me that this next image does NOT stir the very depths of your rodent soul:

Isn't that that one scene in 'Mary Poppins' when they go through the chalk painting...?

"No! This is clearly an image of reverence and devotion.

It's that planet where the Care Bears come from...?

"It is a Garden of Prayer! You can tell by the magic cotton candy trees.
This next one might be a bit more accessible. Here:
Um....ok. It's the fabled Lost Temple of the WASPs...?
The 'Wee Kirk o' the Rill Tainted With Agricultural Runoff'?
"No no no! It's not even about a church! Everything about this scene evokes the solace of religion. Even the title was chosen to convey a sense of God's promise...'Sun(you see the play on words here?) rise Chapel'. As in 'The Son has risen!' Get it? Sun? Son? Risen? Morning? Two messages in one! A beautiful harmony of meaning beautifully and harmoniously joined together like twin ply toilet paper, the pink** scented kind with the wavy designs embossed in it.


People buy this stuff by the metric shitpile. Why?

1. It's pretty. Everyone likes pretty, right? It's not like, say, beautiful, because beautiful demands a little interaction. Pretty is just....nice.

2. Look at the palette. Remind anyone of a particular decade? That's right! It goes with old people's furniture! Pink, peach, grey and green...Mom and dad have all that disposable income now that the kids have flown, and what better way to display this newfound affluence than by purchasing a piece of art? One that already matches their decor?

3. The subject matter is easily recognizable. By God, a house looks like a house and a tree looks like a tree. Nothing at all like that modern stuff where you can't tell what the fuck its supposed to be of.

This guy's work is the visual equivalent of a prostitute smoking down her cigarette while she waits for her client to 'get finished'.
Is it art? Yup.
And the message is 'write the check, asshole'.


*And a 'thank you kindly' to Tickersoid, our man in Pontyhotpant, the word 'Sensory', and his amazing brain.

**I wonder if the artists preoccupation with the color pink might be evidence of a deeper level of symbolism? A subtle yet overarching acknowledgement of the female creative principle? Or maybe it hints at a primeval spirituality that can be apprehended only after ingesting certain hallucinogenic cacti and tripping on children's programming?
I think the answer is obvious.


  1. They look like Christmas cards that someone has puked on. Yuk!

  2. billy: I have just had a rather amazing realization about you. your blog. both you and your blog.

    yes you are.

    yes that is a good thing.

  3. Ah, heck! Now I have to go and brew some fresh (very strong) coffee to wash away the Kinkadic taste. Very funny post. Also, damn' accurate.

  4. Great post FN , ghastly pictures , I had a glow in the dark Virgin Mary Statuette in my downstairs lavatory (dont ask me where or why as I just dont know , it appeared one day , I tottered down in the night to take a leak , and thought I was having some sort of religious experience , nearly caused an un expected bowel movement , it stayed for about a year and then dissapeared again)
    But my question is......was it good art, lol

  5. You are one sick fuck. I love you so much. *Muah!* xoxoxoxo

  6. I have Bob Ross on line 2!

  7. There's nothing wrong with any of those pictures, it's just the medium that was used.

    They would have looked a lot better if they were painted on that black velvet stuff that they paint Elvis, John Wayne and Jesus on (sometimes in the same picture).

  8. dinahmow: hey, he outgunned Robert Motherwell. he outgunned CAROLYN KEENE. ( i've seen an original Keene that wasn't about mutant eyeball orphans. the woman was GOOD. who knew?)

    beast: that determination is a matter between you and the Virgin Mary. (I had a glow in the dark crucifix over my bedroom lightswitch as a girl. dude, it was intense.)

    cb: thank you. and thank dear departed Bluto. he even waived his consultation fee!

    homoE: and Bob was carefully considered...but was disqualified for lack of false sentiment (plus i am strangely fascinated by his man- bouffant). oooo, but he was THIS close!

    MJ: omg! i have GOT to show the Stainless Steel Amazon! too much! thanks!!!:D

    willowtree: welcome willowtree! it's clear you have the gimlet eye of a connoisseur. Kinkade on velvet! Think how nicely it would set off a display of Royal Doulton 'Royal Family Commemorative' plates!

  9. My latent good sense warned me not to click on that MJ link....I did. I am truly sorry.This will need more than mere coffee...

  10. FN: Too much time spent in bookstores and libraries when I'm not propping up the bar.

  11. Tickers definition of art.

    Anything, created by man (or woman) with the intention of evoking an emotional change in those that sense it.
    I used the word sense to also cover non-visual arts.

    By this definition, those paintings are art. I will leave it to you to decide if it's good or bad.

  12. *googles HARVEY PEKAR*

    *is pleased with results*


  13. hendrix3:42 AM

    Oh dear...up until this moment I'd quite liked representational art. Now I'm going to have to rethink all that.
    Mind you I might get a copy of that bible book for brides, then should anyone I really dislike get married I have the perfect present for them.

  14. wrong that I laughed till my sides hurt while I read this?

    Also that I found myself critique-ing all the art that my parents/grandparents have purchased sine us kids left home AND found that it mostly falls into this washed out - limp wristed category??

    Please god let it not happen to me!

  15. Its on everything. DoorKnobs, shoelaces, lampshades. Kincaid sold out. It would be something if his 'pictures' weren't everywhere. Hell, he even has a store selling just his crap in a mall in Boise Idaho. Sad state of affairs

  16. dinahmow: but it's an excuse to have a cocktail, so it's not all bad!

    mj: on behalf of the united states i would like to apologize for that, too. have another.

    tick: dude, you are absolutely right. in fact i'm going to update my post here and amend my definition because you nailed it. all hail the man from Wales!

    billy: these days ol' harvey is a much mellower individual than he was in the early days of American Splendor I-II. but you're both doing the same thing...focusing a gigantic intellect on the everyday.
    imagine R. Crumb illustrating YOUR observations! or maybe one of those guys from Viz...

    hendrix; my darling, this stuff is not representational art. and representational art is fine (even though I can't live with it because it never changes, but that's my weird brain.) this is a crime scene.

    amy: up in heaven, chewing on his sunflower seeds, you have made dear Bluto the hamster very happy.

    gale: OMG! we have a Kinkade store in Lynden! In the Dutch Village Mall (real name, i shit thee not.) that's how I was introduced to his stuff...i was walking by the shop with the biker and was stopped dead by the picture in the display window, where i was moved to exclaim at volume 'Oh my GOD!! people BUY THIS SHIT?' oh, the dirty looks.

  17. Personally, I'd hang that picture of the little babyjesus before I'd hang that crap anywhere near my home.

    It reminds me of the type of pictures that those "HUGE ART SALE THIS WEEKEND!!!" offer. So maybe it falls into the category of neither high nor low, but Huge.

    Great post my friend.

  18. It's an anagram of "rat".

  19. I forget what this post was about because I had to google Harvey Pekar to find out who Billy is and then got fascinated by Harvey and then went to see if Billy is really him and then realised you were still here - good post whatever it was.

    God it was those awful pictures wasn't it? Bleugh!

  20. Of course it is art! Meeeaaaaningful art. Art with purpose and symbolism. Just take this one, for example:
    Serenity Cove, featuring a lighthouse inspired by Marblehead Light on Lake Erie, celebrates the guidance my faith offers as I face life’s transitions. For me, the four boats sailing toward the horizon symbolize the life journey of my four daughters as they grow into adulthood

    Doesn't that just bring tears to your eyes? And what exactly does he think will happen when those poor girls fall over the edge of the horizon - WHAT THEN???!!!

  21. ....I still think it's an anagram of "rat". There again, I thought the London Underground was a political movement.

  22. Ohhh...I got a FN's post. All those years at art college finally paid off.
    The definition was made up by me, one night shift, when nothing was happening.

  23. Whenever I see them, although I wish I could paint that way, I still find myself wanting to poke Christmas lights through the back for some added glow.


  24. g: some of it really IS huge, too. you can order it to size, i do believe.

    reg pither: welcome! beautifully put; succinct.

    ziggi; they go well with chintz.

    21MOM: hey you! //that cracked me up BAD. oh dear! oh my, oh my. thats...some copy.

    reg: and you're still right, in a haiku kinda way. the London Underground is in fact a DIAMOND MINE staffed by mean dwarves.

    tick: well thunk! it's all the carbon in your diet. i knew you were more than a nice pair of legs in a bathing suit.

    awaiting: there you go. fairy lights! maybe the sound activated type so when you play music they bump right along! *drops needle on 'Pat Boone Sings Songs of Faith'*

  25. Pat Boone!? NOooo,I was thinking more on the lines of Andy Griffith "I Love To Tell The Story"...

    Let's boogie!

  26. "**I wonder if the artists preoccupation with the color pink might be evidence of a deeper level of symbolism? A subtle yet overarching acknowledgement of the female creative principle? Or maybe it hints at a primeval spirituality that can be apprehended only after ingesting certain hallucinogenic cacti and tripping on children's programming?
    I think the answer is obvious.

    So, what you're saying is that it's not VALIS? Hmmm.

    The truly crowning touch for Thomas Kinkade is that he curses like a motherfucking sailor and drinks like a fish. He's been shuffled out of many a signing/appearance due to this. It would be ironic, if not for the fact that this seems to be the usual behaviour for evangelical money-grubbing cunts.

  27. HA! I don't have chintz anymore I have Harvest Porn and HRT - it's a combination made in heaven!

  28. Can I have the hamster when you've finished with him? I want to see if I can communicate with the dead climbers on Everest to see why they died.

  29. ...and how arrogant is it for him to register "Painter of Light" as his trademark when use of light was the stock in trade of the Impressionists. Pompous ass. This is so formulaic and fairytale, sorta like there being anything useful about being a virgin on one's wedding day. Poppycock!

  30. Yay! Hamster! I think we need more hamster here at Paul.

    My cousin's friend, an MFA (Masters of Fine Art), couldn't find a job after he graduated (i guess all the Starbucks were full) and got a job working in one of the Kincaid stores. Oh, people laughed and laughed...

    The planet where Care Bears come from. Heh.

  31. awaiting: and she SCORES! BEAUTIFUL!

    fatty: oh DANG. but then i can think of a whole lot of reasons i'd drink if i were t.k.

    ziggi: what is 'Harvest Porn'? is it like that site where all the vegetables look like peoples naughty potty parts? do they match the new suite?

    pF: what does it for me is the 'christian' content...although the images aren't quite blatant enough to OFFEND anyone or clash with the upholstery. it's reprehensible.

  32. woops, SOPWITH!: go right ahead. he works freelance and i'm sure he'd be happy to help. in life the mysterious fate of those lost climbers often crossed his mind. probably.

  33. The impressionists were just Frogs painters who didn't want to bother the optician.

  34. I'm late to this but I just had to say: hee! Especially "Lost Temple of the WASPs" and "Write the check, asshole."

    BTW, Mrs. Nator's 90-odd y.o. grandma luuuurves Kinkade. She even dragged us to a store that ONLY SOLD KINKADE ITEMS, once. Brrr.

    I made the mistake of buying her a Kinkade angel tchotchke a couple years ago because she also loves angels. To my horror, this now has put me on a list to receive everything from Xtian tchotchke catalogues to those paper Jebus "prayer rugs" they send out to bilk old+xtian+dumb people out of their money. ARGH!!!

    Makes me almost glad granny's eyes have failed so we can't buy her any more of that crap.