Lombard Street - Thomas Kinkade
Self proclaimed 'painter of light'.
The news of Kinkade's death led national news last weekend. Many bloggers have discussed the man and his art since, some of the more serious discussion I found interesting. Personally I thought most of his work to be too sentimental and more Hallmark gift card art than fine art, albeit suitable for reproduction, signing and framing. Actually Kinkade was a very skilled painter and an astonishing marketing expert. Artists normally are not known for their business capabilities, but Kinkade came close to being the Steve Jobs of the commercial art world.
Despite what critics say, I think Kinkade's style of painting may best be described as neo-post-impressionist - especially his more serious work - views of New York and Nascar paintings. Otherwise the fantasy cottages and landscapes, though skillfully executed, are pretty much what I used to call department store fine art. (When I was in school I honestly hoped to paint as well... I continue to hope.) Buyers from major stores such as Macy's and Marshall Fields scouted post-war European capitols, especially Paris and Rome, up until the early '60's, buying up the work of street artists, who painted in the always popular and very saleable, post-impressionist style of Édouard Cortès, among others. Department store Fine Art-Pictures and Mirrors departments were filled with such paintings - some were very good - and I've seen a few make it on Antiques Road Show with a nice auction estimate. A lot of it is good art.
Kinkade pretty much did the same thing with his product - 1980's+ style of course: marketing, reproduction of original works, and licensing. Knocking out signed and numbered, sofa-sized reproductions just like the wild life galleries did for the wild-life/hunting market. Kincade's select market was much wider however. He sold no-place-like-home/oh-what-a-beautiful-card fantasies of heaven on earth, while making a good Christian, born-again, post-impressionist impression upon old fashioned, dysfunctional, home-sick hearts, who never lived like that. His work appealed to the same bourgeois taste which loved Cortès and all the other post-impressionist painters ever since. That is not a bad thing, BTW.
That said, no doubt about it, he was a talented man; a skilled painter and and a brilliant marketeer. Nothing wrong with that. RIP.
Flower Market At La Madeleine - Edouard Cortes.
UPDATE: I came across a really good critique of Kinkade at First Things by Joe Carter. Check it out.