Fascinating examination of Thomas Kinkade, Joe. I was unaware of (and impressed with) his earlier work—which of course prompts the question: what happened?
This “60 Minutes” interview/profile of Kincade is quite revealing, as an artist seduced by mammon:
“There’s over 40 walls in the average American home, and Tom says our job is to figure out how to populate every single wall in every single home and every single business throughout the world with his paintings,” says [CEO of Kinkade's company] Thomas Fleming.
And to your reader, Miguel, who wondered “I honestly, and completely innocently, always assumed that they must be produced by an army of employees working somewhere”—well, you’re not far off:
Kinkade barnstormed through Texas on a sales-boosting mission like a possessed Willy Loman—adding lighting signatures to canvases that collectors waiting outside have agreed to buy. These signatures add value, but even more value is added with another personal touch.
“My passion was to find a way that I could get the prints to look like an original,” says Kinkade. “I was playing around with oil paint in my studio. And this was the fatal mistake. I put the highlight strokes on there. And it came to life.”
When a canvas has felt the touch of Kinkade’s brush, it may be worth $50,000. But since he can’t do it all, he has dozens of hired hands to help. Their touch of the brush is less expensive, but regardless, product must be moved.
These days, it would seem Kinkade’s muse is himself:
“Thomas Kinkade is a multi-dimensional lifestyle brand, similar to Martha Stewart or Ralph Lauren,” says Kinkade.
“You can put a Thomas Kinkade couch beneath your Thomas Kinkade painting. Next to the Thomas Kinkade couch goes the Thomas Kinkade end table. On top of that goes your collection of Thomas Kinkade books, Thomas Kinkade collectibles, Thomas Kinkade throw rugs. You can snuggle your Thomas Kinkade teddy bear.”
And, he adds, “You can put all of that inside your new Thomas Kinkade home in the Thomas Kinkade subdivision.”
And what does it say about us, that Kinkade has (reportedly) sold more canvases than any other painter in history?—More than Picasso, Rembrandt, Gaughin, Monet, Manet, Renoir and Van Gogh combined?