When I came across the work of the painter Thomas Kinkade, almost a decade ago, I was fascinated and appalled. As you know if you listen to the show, I’m really not a snob — I loved The Hangover, for instance, and don’t really get opera.
But the popularity of Kinkade’s ultra-treacly landscape paintings, produced by the thousand, and the penumbra of religious sanctimony and all-Americanism around their marketing, just staggered me. So I did a rant on the air that you can hear here:
His images seemed to beg for German adjectives — völkisch, kitschy — and now comes the news that another German word is in order: schadenfreude. Because Thomas Kinkade, unable to pay his debts (reportedly in the millions) due to people who say he “used his Christian faith to fraudulently persuade them to open one of the artist’s ‘signature’ galleries,” has declared bankruptcy.
- Kurt Andersen