Thomas Kinkade, 'painter of light,' in legal trouble
The paintings are instantly recognizable: the light-infused, sugary-sweet idealists images of a fantastical American life hang in shopping mall galleries across the United States. The work of a powerhouse of painting, Thomas Kinkade, the self-appointed "painter of light," these works move people to doling out hundreds of dollars for a painting, or move people to figuratively retching at the affront to art. A 2008 Post article by Rachel Beckman said, "Mocking Thomas Kinkade is perhaps the one activity that brings the art world together."
For Kinkade, life is not imitating art at the moment. Morning Edition reports that the Christian evangelical painter's company is struggling with bankruptcy amid a $3-million settlement owed to gallery owners that claim he defrauded them, and the painter faces a DUI charge in California.
What struck me about the story, though, was this line: "It's estimated a piece of Kinkade's work is in one of every 20 American homes." I think my aunt probably has about six paintings, but really? This man's work hangs in 5,619,314 homes? A 2006 article in the Post claims an even bigger number: roughly 10 million Americans have Kinkade's work. And he's bankrupt? Something is afoot in Kinkade-land.
Calls to his company have not been returned. Read the whole piece from NPR here.
Update: Read Susan Orlean's great 2001 profile on Kinkade, "Art for Everybody." She writes:
He will point out that he has built the largest art-based company in the history of the world, and that ten million people have purchased a Kinkade product, at one of three hundred and fifty Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries that carry his limited-edition prints, or through his Web site, or at one of the five thousand retail outlets that sell Kinkade-licensed products, including cards, puzzles, mugs, blankets, books, La-Z-Boys, accessory pieces, calendars, and night-lights.
Update: An earlier version incorrectly stated Kinkade faced bankruptcy. The Thomas Kinkade Company faces bankruptcy.
| November 30, 2010; 12:36 PM ET
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