'Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54

Saturday, April 7, 2012 1:28 AM
Last updated 1:29 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO — Artist Thomas Kinkade, whose brushwork paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been big sellers for dealers across the United States, died Friday, a family spokesman said.

"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, a reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, a reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."

Kinkade, 54, died at his home in Los Gatos in the San Francisco Bay Area of what appeared to be natural causes, David Satterfield said.

Kinkade called himself the "Painter of Light," and his sentimental paintings, with their scenes of country gardens and churches in dewy morning light, were beloved by middlebrow America but reviled by the art establishment. He claimed to be the nation's most collected living artist, and his paintings and spin-off products were said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million homes in the United States.

His paintings generally depict tranquil scenes with lush landscaping and streams running nearby. Many contain images from Bible passages.

"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, a reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."

Before Kinkade's Media Arts Group went private in the middle of the past decade, the company took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country, according to the Mercury News. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.

According to his website, Kinkade's paintings have been reproduced in hand-signed lithographs, canvas prints, books, posters, calendars, magazine covers, cards, collector plates and figurines.

A biography on the website said Kinkade rejected "the intellectual isolation of the artist" and instead, made "each of his works an intimate statement that resonates in the personal lives of his viewers."

"I share something in common with Norman Rockwell and, for that matter, with Walt Disney, in that I really like to make people happy," he said.

Kinkade was born and raised in the Placerville, Calif. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "We are shocked and saddened by his death."

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ForeverFrog
1
Points
ForeverFrog 04/07/12 - 03:06 am
2
4

Sorry to hear of his untimely

Sorry to hear of his untimely death. However, IMO the art establishment got it right - but to each his own. And to think the Cundy girl was murdered by someone stealing his stuff.

freespeach
4
Points
freespeach 04/07/12 - 08:33 am
0
0

The art establishment has

Unpublished

The art establishment has less to do with art and more to do with politics. They despised Thomas Kinkade becuase they were jealous that people purchased his art work and not theirs. They don't understand that the majority of people want to buy art they admire rather than puchase works that empasize a political statement rather than something truely artistic.

Allieblues
223
Points
Allieblues 04/07/12 - 09:13 am
1
0

May KinKade rest in peace,

May KinKade rest in peace, condolences to the Family, he was a commercial painter, never care for that type of Art...but as FoeeverFrog says, to each his own.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/07/12 - 09:35 am
2
1

Kinkade seemed like a great

Kinkade seemed like a great guy. He never said that his goal was to make "A"rt but rather to make art that pleased people. His was not art with a strong message. I never cared for his work but he pleased other people and made their lives a little brighter. It could be argued that in doing so he attained the ultimate goal as an artist.

Fundamental_Arminian
1725
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 04/07/12 - 09:49 am
2
0

I'm sorry to hear Mr. Kinkade

I'm sorry to hear Mr. Kinkade won't be around to produce more paintings. They had a way of putting me in a peaceful, spiritual mood the way icons can do. My condolences to his family.

    "'Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,' his wife, Nanette, said in a statement" (news story).

I've never seen the name Thomas abbreviated that way.

itsanotherday1
34526
Points
itsanotherday1 04/07/12 - 09:53 am
3
0

Yes, art is like barbeque;

Yes, art is like barbeque; "good" is an individual preference. I am more inclined to appreciate the works of Kinkade than any of the abstractionists or those who see dung splattered on canvas as art.

happychimer
13226
Points
happychimer 04/07/12 - 10:37 am
1
3

Thomas Kinkade was the

Thomas Kinkade was the greatest artist of our times. His paintings are calm, peaceful, and absolutely beautiful.Nobody can compare to him.

linux
73
Points
linux 04/07/12 - 11:02 am
2
1

My wife graduated from ASU in

My wife graduated from ASU in art; needless to say she despises his work. For me, I find them peaceful and comforting. Oh well...

happychimer
13226
Points
happychimer 04/07/12 - 11:10 am
1
2

Some people just don't

Some people just don't appreciate real talent.I had never heard of anyone who did not love his paintings. I guess some people have no taste.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/07/12 - 11:25 am
4
1

I have to take issue with

I have to take issue with happychimer's claim that Kinkade is "the greatest artist of our time." I don't believe that that honor can be conveyed on anyone during the time they are producing art. History will ultimately decide that.
It is my personal belief that Kinkade owed much of his success to the idea that the vast majority of people don't want to have to think about art or what they are seeing. His paintings were technically proficient and easily accessible to a great many people. Like Warhol, I think that his true genius was in the marketing of the works. He was, and probably will be for a long time, the king of sofa art. His paintings are pretty but not deep. As an artist, I hold no animosity toward him but I do draw a distinction between what is 'A'rt and what is art. Unfortunately, there isn't enough room here for me to explain fully my distinctions.

happychimer
13226
Points
happychimer 04/07/12 - 11:36 am
1
3

Bruno I had never heard of

Bruno I had never heard of anyone who did not love his paintings. I don't care how much commercialism was involved, he wanted people to see and appreciate his works. His paintings bring comfort to those who see the true meaning of his paintings. You might not like them, but as for me, I can't imagine how anyone can't like them.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/07/12 - 01:45 pm
3
2

I have heard of a great many

I have heard of a great many people who don't like his paintings. I for one don't care for them. I find them, while technically proficient, boring, shallow and nothing more than decoration. They are simply sofa art. By his own admission there is no "true meaning" behind his art other than to make people comfortable. His art is the other side of the coin from "shock art" and is just as empty and easy.

Yes, his paintings bring comfort for those who like them but there isn't anything being expressed in them other than making people feel calm and comfortable. You could apply the same rubric to the reason so many hospital walls were painted green.

ForeverFrog
1
Points
ForeverFrog 04/07/12 - 02:05 pm
1
2

What Bruno said!

What Bruno said!

ForeverFrog
1
Points
ForeverFrog 04/07/12 - 02:10 pm
2
2

happychimer, there are masses

happychimer, there are masses of people that don't care for Kinkade's paintings (not to be confussed with art). But obviously many did and made him wealthy. To each his own.

happychimer
13226
Points
happychimer 04/07/12 - 02:24 pm
0
3

I do not believe there are

I do not believe there are masses of people who do not like his paintings.To those who say they don't like his work, let me see you paint that good. He had class and taste, and I am just floored by the comments of those who don't like his work. I never heard anyone before say a negative word about his work. never

happychimer
13226
Points
happychimer 04/07/12 - 02:25 pm
0
3

his work is art at its

his work is art at its finest.

ForeverFrog
1
Points
ForeverFrog 04/07/12 - 03:41 pm
1
1

happychimer, what does how

happychimer, what does how well I might paint have to do with Kinkads painting??? Sorry we burst your bubble. If you like his paintings, hey, that's cool.

AutumnLeaves
4712
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/07/12 - 03:46 pm
2
0

I've heard plenty of negative

I've heard plenty of negative things about his work over the years; but I like them. Art is subjective and each person brings their own personalities to their appreciation of art. Think of the millions of dollars spent on abstract pieces by people that want them; yet, they leave me cold. Kinkade's art evokes feelings of warmth and security in me. I would rather have a $50-$200 Kinkade, on my wall, than a highly regarded million dollar Picasso or Klee abstract painting.

ForeverFrog
1
Points
ForeverFrog 04/07/12 - 06:25 pm
1
1

Beauty is in the eye of the

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

specsta
5701
Points
specsta 04/07/12 - 07:29 pm
3
2

Kinkade was a "cookie-cutter"

Kinkade was a "cookie-cutter" type of painter. The same basic compositional elements (S-curve, golden mean, the rule of thirds) were prevalent in all of his work - basically Art 101. His work does not really have any depth or meaning to it - it is just a pretty picture. The work is more fitting for a generic holiday postcard or a calendar - but not meant to be taken as serious art.

Kinkade, however, was a skilled salesmen - he knew how to market his work for profit - and he also understood that most of the buying public wouldn't realize the difference between his mediocre paintings and actual creative artwork.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 04/07/12 - 08:54 pm
0
0

The oracle has spoken.....so

Unpublished

The oracle has spoken.....so let it be written....so let it be done.....

(eyeroll)

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 04/07/12 - 09:23 pm
0
0

I neither liked nor disliked

I neither liked nor disliked his work. I thought it was pretty enough... but it seemed they all had the same feel to them and so many mass prints were made I'd never purchase one or even want it in my house. I like things to be a little different, though. I do think it's sad to hear that someone dies of natural causes at the young age of 54, and I'm sure plenty of people enjoyed his work. The good news is, it sounds like his family will be set for life.

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 04/07/12 - 09:23 pm
0
0

No idea why it double posted.

No idea why it double posted. Sorry

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/07/12 - 10:11 pm
0
0

'a'rt is subjective. 'Art'

'a'rt is subjective. 'Art' has more intellectual rigor to it. Those who fall into the "art is subjective" camp fail to understand the scope of the argument. If all art is subjective then everything is art. If everything is art then the term becomes meaningless. I have also noted that some seem to think that the critique of his work is a critique of him. It is not. It is one of the things that I warn high schoolers and undergraduates against. Your work is not you. I can think your work is awful but still like you. I can think that your work is great but also think that you are a total schmuck.

The golden mean, rule of thirds, leading lines, S curves etc are basic composittional elements that have proven themselves over time. Use of them does not mean that your work will be mundane. Use of them does not mean that your work will be great or even good either.
Kinkade's work was good for what it was, sofa art. 54 is too young to die of natural causes. Especially when you have a big bank account.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 04/07/12 - 11:33 pm
0
0

I wonder if you have to tilt

Unpublished

I wonder if you have to tilt your head and hold your pinky at a daringly rakish angle when you compare 'a'rt to 'ART'

AutumnLeaves
4712
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/08/12 - 12:51 am
0
0

Those who fall into

Those who fall into criticizing those who view "art as subjective" as failing to understand fail to understand that we DO understand and we are not of any "camp". We are individuals and some of us have actually studied art and art history. Just because I like Kinkade's work doesn't mean I don't understand art. Call it sofa art if you will. That is a good description of what I like about it. I hope Kinkade laughed all the way to the bank along with Picasso and Salvador Dali. You can have your technique, I want something over my sofa that makes me smile, not give me an anxiety attack. Don't look for one over my sofa, though. I have my own paintings over my furniture and they look nothing like a Kinkade.

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