Art in a Fallen World, What drove the massive popularity of Thomas Kinkade?
Gregory Wolfe, WSJ, April 20, 2012
Humble as the Graham Library may be in comparison, it's hard not to see in this epic painting and its creator a faint echo of the Sistine Chapel and its own heroic muralist.
When it was reported that Kinkade had died on Good Friday this year, at age 54, after a night of heavy drinking, no one was more shocked than his legion of Christian admirers who consider his paintings beacons of serenity and faith.
The artist's death brought to a tragic end a life that seemed equal parts Norman Rockwell and Citizen Kane. In so many ways, it is a quintessentially American story: the triumph of a rags-to-riches rebel who challenges the establishment (in this case the art world), touching the hearts of millions and achieving success with paintings that celebrate God, country and family values.
The artist, who trademarked himself as "The Painter of Light," produced a steady stream of hugely popular, soft-focus, nostalgic renderings of country cottages, lighthouses and wintry street scenes. To many of his believing fans, the light in these paintings was nothing less than the grace of God.
Kinkade's Christian faith was essential not only to his popularity but to his own understanding of his vocation. Of his Christian conversion during his art school years he once said: "When I was saved, my art got saved." His faith impelled him to create inspirational art. "I'm a warrior for light," he said. "My paintings are messengers of God's ...