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March 06, 2006


Sure, there have been occasions where Pooh has pissed me off, but never to this extent.

Never owned a Kincaide. Nor a David Winter cottage, which I consider to be more of the same. Hey, if the sun is a couple of hours over the horizon, why are the lamps all lit?

Sure, there have been occasions where Pooh has pissed me off, but never to this extent.

One would think, given the name, it would have been Number 2 instead of Number 1.

Obligatory Jonathan Richman quote:

Some people try to pick up girls and get called asshole,
this never happened to Pablo Picasso.
He could walk the street and girls could not resist his stare,
and so Pablo Picasso never got called asshole...not like you.

/end ObWi posting rules violation - does the kitten allow for a final cigarette before I face the firing squad?

I of course have tons of art on my harrdrive, including a lot of what is I suppose 19th kitsch (John Waterhouse?) but accidentally downloaded a group unlabeled by this guy: Howard Behrens I had to look him up, and he seems to be an industry. Picture of the month club. I can't decide if he is better or worse than Kinkade, I can barely stand to look at a Behrens. Like being beaten with color.

OTOH I like Louis Aston Knight son of Daniel Ridgeway Knight and I don't know if the Knights have any respect in the art community. I would be interested in the group's opinions. Honest ones. I suppose I could link to Sisley and Monet for some sort of sliding scale with Monet at the top and Kinkade at the bottom.

I guess my point is that it is not so easy to draw the line, and my line is lower than others, although a little above Kinkade. He doesn't make "evil" art. :)

Aw heck, all the Sisleys and Monets you could want.



Now is it "classy" to want muted colors rather than garish ones? Do we modern folk like landscapes that approach abstraction, like the haystack or Rouen cathedral series? Do we approve of "Waterlilies" because we don't know what Monet wanted us to feel?

Over at Unfogged there was a long discussion about sentimentality in art, mostly concerning Crash. Crash Some quotes:

"sanitized cliche that excludes the possibility of dirt, doubt, or irony"

"Transparency or clumsiness of emotional cues"

"...the injunction to feel for feeling's sake, without an offering of mental engagement."

"sentimental means something that wants me to feel emotions that I am not interested in."

Unattributed, but it is late and I just grabbed quotes from over 300 comments. Tia and NickS did much of the best work.

Did hilzoy add the anecdote because it demonstrated an essential inauthenticity in Kinkade? Kinkade's audience at least thinks it is sincere, and the paintings reflect their real emotions. I said in the Unfogged thread that sentimentality was connected to nostalgia.

Sorry. This is one of my things. A decadent society or civilization expresses itself in both nostalgic sentimentality (Kinkade) and romantic nihilism (Pollock), and I try to see our current era by looking at the past

If it was the Disney fake, who can blame him? EH Shephard drew the real Bear of Very Little Brain, and Disney's icky orange monstrosity has reminded me of the Internet classic Pooh Goes ApeS**t ever since I first read it.

My favourite Winnie ther Pooh story: C. R. Milne died in New York, and his bear was in a vault in a bank. There was an exhibition in London and C.R.Milne's estate had loaned the bear. So an employee of the bank was sent, with this tatty old bear, to fly to London. He was standing around in the airport, looking like any embarrassed young banker in a suit with an elderly teddy bear under one arm, when an airline representative approached him.

"Excuse me, sir - is that Winnie-the-Pooh?"


"Oh, in that case, the VIP Lounge is this way, sir."

One should note Dorothy Parker's Constant Reader who reviewed the book and said

And it is that word 'hummy,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.

I hope my daughters don't see this...


I dunno if it's a posting rules violation if it's part of a movie soundtrack. The movie in question being Repo Man, though, might cause us to rethink.

I have often wondered whether I am an evil person because I passionately hate Thomas Kinkade "paintings."

I have often wondered whether I am an evil person because I passionately hate Thomas Kinkade "paintings."

Quite the opposite I would think. More disturbing than Kinkade's behavior in public is how his empire is on shaky ground:

Last month, however, a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Assn. ordered his company to pay $860,000 for defrauding the former owners of two failed Virginia galleries. That decision marks the first major legal setback for Kinkade, who won three previous arbitration claims. Five more are pending.

and rendering those supposed family heir looms he conned far too many folks to invest in worth less than the canvas they were printed on.

Comparing Thomas Kinkade's body of work to the Left Behind novels is truly apt. Both are enormously popular with people who are entirely uninterested in any competing work, both are remarkably unsubtle in their conservative messages and both are ignored by liberal and professionals in the fields.

That said, my experience in lease negotiations with Thomas Kinkade's legal staff was reasonably pleasant. Just another data point, I guess.

Once upon a time, I was at a function when a woman told me that she wanted to get something really classy for her new house, perhaps a Thomas Kinkade. I almost spit my drink out through my nose.

She got offended when I asked her whether she was kidding.

Something Awful had a couple of pretty good Photoshopping threads on Kinkaid's stuff - lots of soft-focus snipers and mecha-monsters prowling around the cottages and lighthouses.

i can't get there from work, so no links..

A few years back, 60 Minutes (!) had a segment on Kinkade, interviewing a married couple who have literally covered every wall of their house with Kinkade's work. They have more in storage so they rotate it occasionally.

Attempting to explain the appeal, the husband said, "We just look at these little cottages and wonder, what are the people doing in there? Are they drinking hot chocolate?"

He kept talking but my wife & I were laughing too hard to hear. "Look, honey, are they drinking hot chocolate?" has become our all-purpose kitsch marker.

Bob M: "Did hilzoy add the anecdote because it demonstrated an essential inauthenticity in Kinkade?"

No -- I read the story first, burst out laughing at the 'ritual territory marking' thing, and added the painting etc. for context.

And who cares if your responses to art are what's supposed to be classy or not? I don't begrudge Kinkade's followers their love of his paintings, exactly, though they mystify me. But I think that it follows from my 'have the courage of your responses' view that I get to have mine as well, and my response to Kinkade is, roughly, 'eww.'

Me, I wonder about how much time and energy the occupants had to put into the natural-looking thicket of flowering plants on the near side of the cottage. And whether that thicket is the natural habitat for great tits.

Slarti -- bravo! I missed that one, despite having seen a Great Tit for the very first time when I was in the UK.

First X-Philosophy and now X-Art. What is art? What is philosophy? We're (but not us) just too busy consuming to give it a thought. The triumph of those damn marketers.

Yet another reason to go for the classics--the "90% of everything is crud" (Sturgeon's Law) part has less of a chance of surviving. Wonder what the Renaissance version of Kincaid was?

And Kincaid is the ne plus ultra of all those ticky-tacky cutesy woodland pictures one finds at "craft fairs" in mid-sized malls in the Midwest.

Heck, if you want romantic lushness, why not go for Alma-Tadema, who at least tried to get his paintings historically correct?

Slarti: Hey, if the sun is a couple of hours over the horizon, why are the lamps all lit?

The bricks around the windows are glowing. Must be pretty hot in there.

Now that you mention it, that cottage seems to be oddly lacking in...well, in a definite corner, nearest the point of view. Also it seems to be brick in some places, small stones in others, and large stones in yet others. Why the second chimney is through the roof instead of at the other end of the roof is yet another mystery in this painting full of mysteries.

Others: why are there street lamps lining a footpath? Could this be a high-traffic footpath? Why is there a dormer window less than a foot above the top of the door? Why do interior lights illuminate the walls just outside the windows? Does light wrap around corners in Kincade's world? His other paintings have similar oddities, like the "Forest Chapel" where one has to wade the stream on the way in the front door. I suppose they didn't have enough wood left over for a bridge.

Yes, that paintings title must be: "What Hansel and Gretel saw"

And...hey, is that thatch along the ridgeline? Why?

On behalf of cleek: Kincaide Remixed on somethingawful.com

Slart, notice the not-near-setting sun behind the house. The lamps are lit because this is a world of light and lupins.

The question for me is whether there's a placard which would make this a great painting if you walked up to it in a museum. "Where The Atrocity Occurred", 1937, Salvador Dali.

Oh, that was sheer beauty. Especially the roll of Kinkade toilet paper.

I think it's moonlight.

This maybe proves too much.

it looks like there's a puddle in the foreground. but that part of the path looks like it's on a hill. magic water?

also, the sun is up, the sky is blue. but the lights in the house are bright enough to make the bricks around the windows glow. so, maybe it's daylight on the far side of the house and twilight with magic fog on the near side ? or maybe the lights in the house are brighter than the sun?

You bought the painting, now live in the house!

now live in the house

1900sq ft, $700,000 ??? yow. that's about 3x what it would cost where i'm at. i guess the NC housing market is different from the SanFran market.

That would be the North-of-SanFran market, I think. In a popular part of the Bay Area I would expect that house to be more expensive. I'd love to find something that size at that price in my neighborhood - well, I've seen something rather smaller with a slightly higher pricetag at the very edge of Palo Alto along a creek known to flood.

Well northeast of SanFran; the article puts the "village" an offramp short of Vallejo.

FWIW, the title of the piece appears to be "Moonlight Cottage" (see URL on the original link).

Also FWIW, one does find cottages in England that mix brick, large stone, and small stone, and that have chimneys poking through the roof in odd places. When this is real (not an artist's fantasy), it usually implies bits and pieces of construction (and sometimes intermittent destruction) over generations. I'm not sure this explains the low dormer or the bending light, however, much less the street light.

I'm just sayin'.

Hiddenbrooke's developers are now pimping the place as a golf community, and there is no mention on the website of the Kinkade village as one of their "neighborhoods."

I'm guessing that the Kinkade association did not help them sell houses.

Moonlit Cottage it is. I'll be damned.

Well, maybe the full title is "Moonlit Cottage, 500 Seconds After the Sun Goes Nova".

"...don't begrudge Kinkade's followers their love of his paintings, exactly, though they mystify me."

But that is my point and purpose, to demystify. De gustibus non est disputandam? Perhaps, but we try to understand why people vote for Dean, or buy SUV's, or ignore torture, or go see Brokeback Mountain, or oppose abortion. Marketing experts try to analyze complexes of taste-decisions, in order to predict and manipulate.

Now if the people who buy Kinkade also read the Left Behind series, live in Red precincts, and oppose abortion, that may tell us something about Kinkade etc. I personally don't think we can change them, make them prefer Monet. Many in the blogosphere do believe thru some combination of reason and rhetoric we can change their political taste, but will also say that their artistic tastes are not malleable.

I do ask myself:"Why do I prefer Monet to Kinkade?" I do not necessarily believe it is a rational informed educated decision. It may just be pretension or insecurity. It may be an inability or unwillingness to reach the emotional and sentimental parts of myself.

I believe that appeal of Kinkade is connected to the Republican ascendancy, and this nostalgic sentimentality led to the war in Iraq and the way it was waged. I don't laugh at Kinkade.

So...Kincade was caused by Republican ascendancy, or vice versa? Or maybe both were caused by some third thing?

Speaking for myself, I can recall a time in which looking at a Kincade painting made me want to put whale oil in all my lamps, and then turn them up full blast while the sun was still high. Just for the sheer exuberance of it, of course.

"why not go for Alma-Tadema, who at least tried to get his paintings historically correct?"

Because he used his wife as his primary model, and I get real tired of seeing her big nose over and over in Roman settings. One interesting fact about Victorian England is how little the actual British Empire was discussed in public art, while the paintings had all those references to Rome.

"Wonder what the Renaissance version of Kincaid was?"

I'll go look, but all cultures and historical periods are not equally sentimental and nostalgic. Umm, scratch that. Most societies have those elements.

"Or maybe both were caused by some third thing?"

Alienation from modernism? Fear or disapproval of uncontrollable social change?
I am not trying to establish any causal links, or even really expressing disapproval.
Although I might. I am just saying it is really hard to separate cultures into component parts and selectively adjust the parts one at a time.

There's no way I'd ever spend money on a "Kincade" and I'm as likely to roll my eyes at someone who does as the next cynic, but come on, that picture is grebt! Look, it's another planet. The planet's brighter, hotter sun is breaking through the clouds and mists of a passing storm. Brightly colored, unearthly vegetation grows rapidly around the house, itself replicated from half-forgotten architectural memories of old Yrth, while the street-lamps wobble at grotesque, non-euclidian angles, just because, well, that's what street-lamps do on this strange and alien world!

The absurdity of the painting is part of it's charm.

I'd hang it. But I have a fairly high tolerance for kitsch. Maybe in the guest bathroom in a gaudy gilt frame, nineteenth century-stylee.

in other news, terrorism at UNC!

I didn't like Monet once - or perhaps "didn't care for him" would be more accurate. Then one summer in grad school a Monet exhibition came to Chicago, and in part as a way to avoid something unpleasant I studied a book on him and learned how to read the paintings (start at the signature to see what color it is, find that tone in the work, look at the nearby contrasting colors and the brushstrokes used, ..., I forget what else.) Gradually I came to love Monet, or anyway a lot of the mid-to-late-mid stuff. That was a while ago, and I find I've lost some of my taste for him in the intervening years, perhaps in part because I've lost some of my learned sophistication about him, perhaps in part because I became interested in a very different artist, Klee.

I'd guess the point is that Kinkade doesn't reward study in this way - that people like him less the more they look at him and work by great artists in associated genres or styles (naturalistic, pastoral, ...) To decide on viewing one work that the painter is a hack risks the equivalent of deciding on seeing a modern, minimalist, or pop-art work that "My five-year-old could have made that". Of course one can read what the artist's expressed goals are and look at an example and decide straightaway, Yes, that's hackish.

I'm waiting for it to come out in paint-by-number; it's the art equivalent of kit cars.

Kidding, Edward. Please don't throw anything at me.

"I'm waiting for it to come out in paint-by-number; it's the art equivalent of kit cars."

Kinkade also makes for easier jigsaw puzzles than Monet.

"I'd guess the point is that Kinkade doesn't reward study in this way"

Well, art doesn't always need to be appreciated intellectually. I suspect the purpose of much representational art is as an aid in reproducing and sustaining a valuable emotion or frame of mind. Having that Bouguereau gypsy urchin on the wall sends you out your front door each morning with a little more empathy.

I suspect Kinkade fans are frightened, and his paintings reassure. The paintings are historical or fantastic, and they can feel their values, although under threat, are timeless and indestructible.

FWIW, I really like the real painters of light: Cole, Church and especially Bierstadt. Can't afford them, obviously. Instead my house and office are filled with BC First Nations' silkscreens.

Un-hip enough that I don't really get to criticize people who buy Kinkades.

"I suspect Kinkade fans are frightened, and his paintings reassure."

There must be reassuring Velaszquezes, or Raphaels, or Turners out there.

Ok, admittedly those are pricey.

Reading the post in conjunction with the picture leads me to suspect that the depicted cottage is the summer home of the Red Dragon.

1900sq ft, $700,000 ??? yow. that's about 3x what it would cost where i'm at. i guess the NC housing market is different from the SanFran market.

In Arlington, VA this is about $150,000 - $200,000 too little. There are 1,400 sq ft townhomes -- townhomes, people, that back up to retail shopping -- down the street from my office selling for more than a million dollars.

Kinkade's work always reminds me of the work by this artist, who unfortunately was rejected by the Vienna Art Academy, and umm, took his talent in other directions.

Maybe we should be grateful Kinkade had a profitable art career, otherwise we might be annexing Ontario.

Evil Americans?

Inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison are treated better than in Belgian jails, an expert for Europe's biggest security organization said on Monday after a visit to the controversial U.S. detention center. [snip]
Grignard told a news conference that prisoners' right to practice their religion, food, clothes and medical care were better than in Belgian prisons.

"I know no Belgian prison where each inmate receives its Muslim kit," Grignard said.

No one seems to have noted that Kinkade has long sold himself as a born-again Christian when peddling his pictures on cable TV. To hear that he fits into the same pattern as Donald Wildmon (pornography collector) or Jimmy Swaggart (SM) and Bill O'Reilly (sexual harrassment) is heartening news, indeed.

Although pissing on Winnie the Pooh while dissing Walt Disney is a saving grace.


Hey, eva, in Belgium do they give people they're going to lock up trials?

Our http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2874.htm>government thinks so:

Belgium continues to increase its counter-terrorism capabilities by adding domestic legislative, judicial, intelligence, and law enforcement tools that increase its ability to prevent or respond to terrorism. The government also cooperates closely with other European states and the United States in investigating cases of international terrorism. A Brussels trial of al-Qaida-related defendants ended in September 2003 with sentences for 18 of the 23 accused, with another 2004 terrorist-related trial resulting in 8 more guilty verdicts. In November 2005, Belgium arrested fourteen on terrorism charges. Belgium operates within UN and EU frameworks concerning the freezing of terrorist assets, but has yet to develop a domestic legal framework to act independently.

I guess 'bring 'em to justice' has a different meaning in some places.

Well, eva, it would be nice if you would put the following paragraph from the article

But Alain Grignard, deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit, said that holding people for many years without telling them what would happen to them is in itself "mental torture."

Grignard and others apparently did not visit Bagram, Abu Grahaib, or the secret prisons that were reported on and now have mysteriously dropped off the radar. I wonder why...

What gets me about Kinkade:
1) for someone who has freaking trademarked the phrase "painter of light", I have never seen anyone LESS interested in actually painting what light actually looks like. That is not moonlight! Windows do not glow like that unless it is dark out, in which case you cannot see the pretty pretty pink of the flowers! Gah.

2) I think Slarti was joking about paint-by-numbers, but:

The young couple were from a moderately priced gated community not far from the mall, and they were bashful and pleased because they had never bought a family heirloom before. Also, they had never bought a painting before. Actually, they still hadn't bought a painting, since what they were buying was not a painting per se but a fifteen-hundred-dollar lithographic reproduction of a Thomas Kinkade painting, printed on textured-brushstroke canvas with an auto-pen Kinkade signature in the lower right-hand corner.

This was not an ordinary day at the gallery: it was a Master Highlighter Event, a two-day guest appearance by one of Kinkade's specially trained assistants, who would highlight any picture bought during the event for free. Highlighting a picture is not that different from highlighting your hair: it entails stippling tiny bright dots of paint on the picture to give it more texture and luminescence. The customer could sit with the highlighter and watch the process, and even make requests -- for a little more pink in the rosebushes, say, or a bit more green on the trees. Some highlighter -- Glenda was one -- would even let the customers dab some paint on the picture themselves, so it would be truly one-of-a-kind.

Originals by actual "painters of light" are out of most people's price range, but you can pick up their prints for $10-30.

BTW, this is not just a red state thing--he has, or at least had until very recently (I've not checked lately) a gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. Boston doesn't have a gallery scene, really, and the decent galleries it does have are not on Newbury Street (where rents are ludicrous), but obviously there's a market for it here. Whereas I haven't caught any Tim LaHaye book signings around Back Bay.

I imagine Rembrandt's workshop did something similar for enough guilders.

The point is, "maybe it's cheesy but this is original art that people can afford" isn't really right. It's not original, and it's not particularly affordable. There are certainly good, young, representational artists out there whose originals you could buy for less money than a highlighted Kinkade signed with an auto pen. To say nothing of amateurs.

I applaud the post (still laughing) and the posters' comments on the oddities of the featured Kinkade work. Really, words fail me, so I'm glad they didn't fail you. I kind of agree that his aesthetic is related to What's Wrong With This Country (though as a native Texan I have a private weakness for amateur paintings of fields full of bluebonnets).

But Hil? I don't think Farley Mowat has a grave to roll in, unless something happened to him in the last month or two -- last time I checked he was still with us. Thank goodness. There are some people the world is better for having in it, and he's one of them. Thomas Kinkade is ... not.

Off the topic, but hey, cleek started it -- In re the UNC terror-by-SUV incident, a couple of years ago friends of mine who live in an 18th-century house near the Chapel Hill campus were awakened at 3 a.m. by a large pick-up truck roaring down the hill their house is on, missing a curve, jumping the stone wall at the front of their property instead, going airborne onto the front porch and taking out half the porch columns, half the front of the house, and the dining room, before it was stopped by a stone fireplace and chimney. The v. intoxicated 19-year-old sorority girl inside was trying to re-start the engine when they found her.

No student protests after that episode.

My landlady actually owns one of these galleries, although I've got no idea if she's a "master highlighter" or not.

I do know that it will not be possible to keep a straight face next time I drop off a rent cheque!

Javelina: oh. no.

Thanks for telling me.

Update en route.

Eric Muller is a prof at UNC and at his blog IsThatLegal?, he has a two links about the story. He also notes that he was attending a talk on campus (but in a different part) by Orin Kerr.

I had misread CharleyCarp as saying something negative about Thomas Cole, and was about to jump in to defend him. But now I realize I don't have to, so I'll just say that the New York Historical Society has (I'm not sure permanent collection or temporary) an excellent exhibit of Cole and other Hudson River School painters up.

I also teach at UNC, and get my daily bagel right by where the auto assault took place - but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the attack occurred on Friday. Does cause one to catch one's breath, though.

At first I was pleased (and a little proud) that the authorities, both town and gown, seemed to be handling the affair as well as they could, with no suggestion that it was anything other than one crazed guy, not generic terrorism or Islamic evil. But after reports of today's racist rally, I'm saddened. Can't decide whether to say anything in tomorrow's lecture ...

Maybe I need a lumious Kinkade to cheer me up?

I knew this French guy in Taiwan, and he'd buy $5 paintings made on an assembly line in China (one person would spend all day applying the same stroke apparently), then take them back to Taiwan, and go knock on the door of offices and say "Allo, I am from France, and I ave a painting that I would like to present to you," and sell them for a few hundred each.

Seems relevant somehow. Night night.

with no suggestion that it was anything other than one crazed guy, not generic terrorism or Islamic evil

hmm... the USA PATRIOT (section 802) seems to say that this guy committed 'domestic terrorism'...


    `(5) the term `domestic terrorism' means activities that--
    `(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
    `(B) appear to be intended--
    `(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    `(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    `(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    `(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'.

or, am i reading that incorrectly ?

I kind of agree that his aesthetic is related to What's Wrong With This Country

Kinkade's silly, and his art may be garish, or even a con job, but he's as harmless as a pet rock. He's no more (or less) responsible for "what's wrong with this country" than Patrick Nagel, Boris Vallejo, or Roger Dean. To me, the fact that any "Kinkade" is a collaborative work, is fascinating, aesthetically. In a world where we valorize comics, paperback cover art, and DIY 'zines, there's obviously a place for Thomas Kinkade.

Hilzoy (mercifully?) left out the most revolting part of the article:

Kinkade testified in a deposition that excessive drinking and "some normal rowdy talk" had taken place, but when confronted with the groping allegation, he denied touching the woman.

"But you've got to remember," he said, "I'm the idol to these women who are there. They sell my work every day, you know. They're enamored with any attention I would give them. I don't know what kind of flirting they were trying to do with me. I don't recall what was going on that night."

Oh. My. God. What a troglodyte!

Ok, an exceptionally lecherous pet rock.

Cleek, pure revenge or punishment isn't necessarily covered by the statutory text you've quoted. And I think "spreading the will of Allah" is a bit vague. It will be interesting to see if he's charged under the statute nonetheless. The Fourth Circuit is just the place for the courts to bend the language.

i wonder how seriously Kinkaid really takes his 'art'.

my guess is 'not very'

"He's no more (or less) responsible for "what's wrong with this country" than Patrick Nagel, Boris Vallejo, or Roger Dean."

Responsibility and causality is not in question, for me at least. What was said was "the aesthetic is related." Now for me, quite honestly, everything is related to everything else, which is what makes it a world, instead of a half-dozen worlds that don't communicate. With the the internet, that world is "getting smaller"

If you are saying that culture and artifacts are unrelated or insignificant even as symptoms, then I suppose "Barely Legal" porn tapes and tv broadcasts of terrorists beheading hostages are also insignificant and harmless. And in themselves, certainly not the acts but the representations, perhaps they are insignificant and harmless. But even so, porn and terrorist videos might tell us something useful about the people who watch them.

I also started in this thread as more interested in the people who hated Thomas Kinkade's work than his buyers. As someone who is immersed in representational art, I find the modernist aversion and contempt for the 5000 year tradition the more interesting symptom.

And speaking of Boris Vallejo, I had an acquaintance who was obsessed with Vallejo and Frazetta babes. His walls were covered with women warriors in brass and leather bikinis with blood-dripping axes. And only that. I don't know what it said about him, and didn't want to know.

To Paul's point, I wasn't suggesting that Mr. Kinkade's aesthetic is harmful in and of itself. The "pet rock" analogy is apt.

Bob McManus is right when he points out that I suggested that Kinkade's popularity is *related* to What's Wrong With This Country. Popular culture tends to reflect societal trends. In this particular case, for me, Kinkade's work reflects a tendency many people have to revel in false nostalgia for a fictional past instead of being willing to deal with what's here now. (The total weirdness of the sun, shadows, etc., in hilzoy's sample painting, well catalogued by other posters above, underlines this.)

If popular culture actually *caused* societal trends that would be something else.

But in any event I wouldn't equate bad art (or good art) -- that is not created in order to be propaganda -- with terrorist beheading videotapes. They are completely different artifacts.

i like how his paintings cause me to remember the smell of cinnamon, citrus, sage and vanilla: the smell of a Hallmark or Yankee Candle store. it makes me want to pay to much for pre-packaged sentiment.

Responsibility and causality is not in question, for me at least. What was said was "the aesthetic is related."

True. Sloppily, maybe, I let "he" stand in for "the Kinkadian aesthetic," so rephrase that as "His aesthetic is no more (or less) responsible for "what's wrong with this country" than the Nagelian, Boris Vallejoian, or Deanian aesthetics."

If you are saying that culture and artifacts are unrelated or insignificant even as symptoms ...

No, I'm suggesting that phrases like "the Kinkadian aesthetic" are too vague to be very meaningful, that the concept tells us too little about who or why people buy these paintings, or how the pleasure they get from owning and looking at one relates to the owners' other beliefs, or pleasures, or social roles. All interesting questions, but not questions (or answers, even) that I'm prepared to hinge our current problems on right yet.

I guess I'd also like to resist the notion that Kinkade is uniquely awful in ways that other objects of pop-cultural study/admiration (pop music, comics, 'zines, pin-up calendars, record covers) aren't.

"But in any event I wouldn't equate bad art (or good art) -- that is not created in order to be propaganda -- with terrorist beheading videotapes"

Terrorist beheading videotapes are very bad things. And matters of degree and subject matter are very important. But there is very little art I do not consider to have political implications. I can't help looking at the Coles and Bierstadts mentioned above and remembering a bunch of dead Native-Americans.

Hudson River School

"The scenes of these paintings invoked sentiment from Americans towards the notion of "the frontier", and were used to build upon movements to settle the American West..."

"The scenes of these paintings invoked sentiment from Americans towards the notion of "the frontier",

funny. when i look at them these days, they invoke simple homesickness. cause, well, i'm from the Lake George area, and it seems like all the Hudson River guys painted Lake George scenes.

I'm also a fan of http://www.dolack.com/>Monte Dolack, not a painter of light, but a Painter of Trout.

Thriftstore Art!!!

Also, relevant (somehow, it seems) to bob mcmanus's comment about the "modernist aversion and contempt for the 5000 year tradition" of representational art, I happened to have recently read H.G. Wells's Outline of History, and he made an interesting point comparing modern abstraction to, I believe, neolithic art, in contrast to the more representational paleolithic art. The whole damn book's online, but only the 1920 edition, which lacks the comment, so I can't copy and paste, as I'd hoped to. But presumably you can find the same observation elsewhere on the web.

To reiterate: Thriftstore Art!!!

Thank you, godoggo, for the Thriftstore Art link. I love it when relatively untrained people just paint what they want to, because it brings them joy; the work tends to reflect that joy.

And ashamed of it though I may be, I still can't help liking Bluebonnet Paintings! Received one as wedding gift, from rural Texan friends, and while it is not on display, it's not going anywhere, either.

Re more serious concerns. By nature, I guess, I tend take a less political view of works of art than Bob M., because often it feels reductionist and somewhat beside the point when something is just ... beautiful. That said, among the Hudson River School painters certainly Bierstadt exhibits a triumphal, "Manifest Destiny" vision of the American West. But the Hudson River painters varied a lot in their views (literally and figuratively). Some works feature Indians living in poverty, and those images weren't intended to make wealthy viewers feel happy. (There are a couple of these in two shows at the National Academy of Design Museum in NYC right now.)

"To reiterate: Thriftstore Art!!!"

Omigawd. Thank you. I lub it. Like a kid in a candystore, downloading as fastest as the mouse can click. Added to my favorites next between the Boston MFA and the World Gallery.
"because often it feels reductionist and somewhat beside the point when something is just ... beautiful"

Well, the politics isn't the only thing I see when I look at a painting, usually only a small part of the experience. And I wouldn't call trying to place art within its social/historical/economic/etc contexts reductionist, but the opposite..."expansionist"?

I was at Boston MFA the other downloading Italian temperas. At all times I tried to remind myself that these were alterpieces, intended to be viewed at Masses by believers.
Reductionist is looking at Botticelli in terms of color and composition without remembering that he served God first, Medicis second, Art third.

Would it be too snotty to remark that it is possible to buy real up-and-coming artists' work for less than $500? I certainly don't have so much to spend, but then I'm an unemployed grad student. But, seriously, I'm guessing that for what one could spent on a Kinkade, one could buy a serious original drawing, at the very least. And I really doubt that a Kinkade will appreciate.

Wikipedia on Kitsch if anyone is still interested.

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