Post image for The one in which I confess I LIKE Thomas Kinkade…

The one in which I confess I LIKE Thomas Kinkade…

by Helen Aldous

Thomas Kinkade, one of the most prolific and successful artist in modern history is dead and right now I would like to stand up and confess that I like his work…

I think somehow it reminds me of the Christmas cards of my childhood featuring cosily lit victorian coaching inns generously sprinkled with silver glitter, a prancing coach and four pulling up outside bringing laughing travellers home for the holidays. The light eminating from inside the Inn beckoning you in to curl up by the fireside with a large dog and a hearty Pickwickian Christmas dinner. A glimpse of a warm friendly interior. A safely comforting feel.

No doubt millions of others got the same sense of cosy safety in an increasingly insane world. An idealised and beautiful landscape where nothing went wrong. Kinkade managed to hit the perfect emotional spot with millions of people, an estimated 1 in 20 American homes owning one of his images. If Kinkade’s work makes people feel a spot of calm or happiness where is the harm in that? He knew his audience perfectly and knew what made them feel good.

But I shouldnt need to “confess” to this should I ?. What is so terrible about liking the work of a popular artist? Why do I neel nervous about typing this?

Who says which art I should like ?

Art dictatorship and the taste police.

I also confess I have a softspot for artists who get up the nose of the art establishment… Despite his immense popularity in the eyes of his millions of fans Kinkade attracted an enormous amount of vitriol from the “taste police” in the art world.

The sheer hatred unleashed on him {and other “not-proper-artists”} by art critics is shocking to read. It reminds me of school kids bitching about and bullying the unpopular kid behind the bike sheds. Many of those same critics are now writing articles praising Kinkades understanding of art marketing and subtly reversing away from their previous nastiness in the light of his death.

Kincade appeared to be able to laugh off the criticisms but it seems sad that his brother believes his losing battle with alcohol was probably precipitated by the constant attacks by the art establishment on him and his work which he took more to heart than he showed.

Scottish artist Jack Vettriano attracts similar criticism. Here he is described in The Guardian newspaper.

“Vettriano is not even an artist. He just happens to be popular, with “ordinary people” who buy reproductions of his pseudo-1930s scenes of high-heeled women and monkey-suited men, and celebrities who fork out for the originals of these toneless, textureless, brainless slick corpses of paintings. “

I don’t personally love Vettrianos work enough to want to own it. However, I will defend to the death the right of anyone to be able to buy it without being made to feel like a brain dead idiot with the style and taste of a wombat.

Can the internet democratise art?

The art establishment has had everything it’s own way for a long long time. This has created a dictatorship where people are afraid to be seen to like the “wrong” art. Fledgling interest in collecting art can be paralyzed by the fear of making a “mistake”. Art galleries become intimidating “no-go” areas for fear of being made to look ignorant.

This increases the perception of art as being something “not for us” by many people and this can’t be a good thing for the majority of artists when more people need to be encouraged to buy art. The massive majority of potential new art buyers are outside the New York art scene and even the gallery system itself.

However, the good news is that with the increasing prevelance of art on the internet, collectors can find the kind of art that they like and the falsely dictated notions of “good” or “bad” taste in art are becoming fast outmoded.

There is a movement towards a democratisation of the art world. People can look online and find the kind of art that appeals to them rather than what they are told they CAN like by a sneering critic. They can then safely buy the art online without being judged or made to feel uncomfortable.

Viva la Revolución!

So it is time to be proud of the art you like… no matter if it is “critic approved” or not. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t like…

So… Just for the record I LOVE LOVE LOVE the work of Vladimir Tretchikoff, famous for his popular prints of exotic beauties which graced every UK front room in the 1960s and 70′s. – dismissed with scorn in his time and now viewed as modern classics.

Wayne Hemingway, in his book Just Above The Mantelpiece says of Tretchikoff  “He achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness.” The line between the two artists is very fine.

I also have a soft spot for Bob Ross and his fabulous “happy little clouds” and Norman Rockwell – once described as Kitsch – now viewed as classic American art.

The Last Word

The last word should go to art critic Louis Leroy describing a painting of a sunrise over water…

“A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more highly finished than this seascape,”

The artist he was pouring scorn on was one Claude Monet

Hmmm…

 

Which artists do you like that you “aren’t supposed to” ? Stand proud and share with us in the comments.

 



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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace Becker June 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I have seen lots of Vettriano’s paintings and I must admit that they are great. Artists will indeed be remembered.
Grace Becker recently posted..Reggie Bush Upset About Kim’s Engagement

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Kirsty Hall May 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I don’t personally like either Vettriano or Kinkade – although I’ve only seen them in reproduction & it doesn’t always translate. But I do have a huge soft spot for Beryl Cook, who also didn’t suit the art establishment & who fortunately didn’t seem to give a bugger about the snotty sods. And I adore the mad Victorian pink excess of Lawrence Alma-Tadema who’s currently very out of fashion.
Kirsty Hall recently posted..The Law Of Diminishing Returns

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Helen Aldous May 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

Oh I LOVE Beryl Cook!. Her work had totally dropped off my radar in recent years but I’m off for a google trawl now to remind myself of her fab drunken granny’s and sailors. Thanks for reminding me. Also checking Alma-Tadema who is fabulous and very much along the lines of my old faves the Pre-Raphaelites, again usually out of fashion, although they seem to have become more popular recently.

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Carolyn Edlund May 2, 2012 at 1:25 am

Brilliant post, Helen. Although not a huge Kinkade fan, I totally agree with you that you have every right to enjoy his work – as do millions of other people. The taste police have their panties in a wad because the job of art critic is dying off. The internet has made a lasting change, and I agree with you that it is to be applauded.

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Helen Aldous May 2, 2012 at 6:14 am

Thanks Carolyn. You are right. I think they are throwing the cot toys out because they are running scared. The phrase “panties in a wad” did make me laugh though ;-) lol

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Helen Aldous May 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Absolutely Dan.

There are some very beautiful and haunting Vettriano paintings and it has always upset me the way he is dismissed.

You are right. Artists will be remembered. Well put.

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Dan Johnson May 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Well said, Helen. I wholeheartedly agree!

I love Vettriano’s paintings, got one of his prints in our kitchen in fact! And I can see the appeal of Kinkade’s work although I probably wouldn’t buy it just because it doesn’t really appeal to my taste.

Artists will be remembered. Art critics will be forgotten. Don’t listen to them!
Dan Johnson recently posted..Right Brain Roundup: April 2012

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