Thomas Kincade: longlasting prints?

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I presume everyone knows of the Thomas Kincade phenomenon (there's a great article about his marketing scheme in a recent edition of Harpers). One thing I'm curious about is the longevity of his prints. He's selling printed "paintings" for several thousand dollars apiece, that as far as I know are merely lithographs, i.e., posters, printed with dye-based inks that are guaranteed to fade within a very small number of years. He's holding these prints out as investment-quality art, selling to the Reader's Digest set; so far he's sold more than ten million of these prints. Nowhere have I seen any mention by him of the longevity of his prints (or lack thereof). Is this a gargantuan act of artistic fraud? Does anyone know any details about his printing process?

-- chris jordan (cjordan@yarmuth.com), November 30, 2001

Answers

What has this got to do with "art". People would be better-off investing in cereal boxes. As far as I know they are just "prints" with daubs of paint splattered on by one of his (many) employees. There was something on a news show over the weekend about him (60 Minutes?), in it there was a couple who had >150 of his prints! Beenie Babies anyone?

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), November 30, 2001.

60 Min. stated that they are actually developing Kincaid SUBDIVISIONS, furniture, etc... This seems to be a greatly marketed "industry". As for art, I suppose it started out that way, and could technically be called so, but is much too stereotypical for my taste.

-- Scott Hamming (scott.hamming@oildri.com), November 30, 2001.

I know nothing about this person or his art. I do have a comment on the subject of longevity. There is nothing that I can think of that requires art to be permanent or long-lasting. Color prints are far from permanent. Look at the beautiful mandelas (spelling) done by Buddist monks in sand grains. Weeks can be spent on creating them. They simply let them blow away when complete. I don't think cost has anything to do with it either. People regularly pay around $75,000 (a guess) for a Porche. I don't think they expect it to last forever if they drive it. Whether the stuff this fellow is selling is art or not, I don't know, but unless he is making false claims about any aspect of it, then its just free enterprise. I'm impressed that he is making gobbs of money. I would be happy to break even selling my fine art photographs.

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), November 30, 2001.

I'm going to stick my neck way out here and perhaps offend a few people, but if I ever were to own a Kincade anything (and someone would have to sneak it into my house without my knowing), I could only hope the inks used in printing it were as fugitive as possible! His work is overpriced dreck that is one more compelling reason this country needs to invest heavily in providing a good liberal arts education to every single child. If schools did a better job of teaching appreciation for art, music and literature, perhaps such crap would fade away. G_d, I feel better!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), November 30, 2001.

Yes Robert, I am offended!! You were way too kind..... :)

-- mark lindsey (mark@mark-lindsey.com), November 30, 2001.


Amen to that!!

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), November 30, 2001.

Sorry folks, but this sorta sounds like jealousy to me. What's mostly "wrong" with Kinkade's works is that "too many" people liked them, so "too many" prints got made and sold, so someone made "too much" money, and we're all jealous because it wasn't us, (and our work is just as "good"). I have some of the same reaction, but the reason the stuff sells is that it somehow evokes feelings in millions of people who buy it. You don't have to like it to realize that means it falls right in the bullseye of the core definition of "ART."

So, now that I've got that off my chest, does anyone know the answer to Chris's original question about the printing process?

-- Lyle Aldridge (dridgee@aol.com), December 01, 2001.


Thought the group would appreciate this biographical info on the renowned artist, downloaded from one of about a thousand web hits with his name: As America's foremost living artist, Thomas Kinkade's reputation continues to grow, and so does the demand for his artwork. Even people who have never had much of an interest in art before find themselves captivated by Thomas Kinkade's wonderfully warm and inviting visions of quaint, cozy cottages and sophisticated, impressionistic cityscapes that are among the artist's signature subjects.

Thomas Kinkade was born in 1958 and grew up in Northern California in the small town of Placerville. Though the family did not have wealth, Kinkade often says they were "rich in the greatest form of wealth: a nurturing and affirming love." His first collector was his mother who would frame his childhood drawings and use them to decorate the family home.

Kinkade studied art at the University of California at Berkeley, where his roommate was the now-renowned artist James Gurney. Kinkade furthered his art education at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Thomas Kinkade has won numerous awards, including the 1995 Artist of the Year and the 1996, 1997 and 1998 Graphic Artist of the Year from the National Association of Limited Edition Dealers (NALED.) Additionally, he has won the 1995 Collector Editions Award of Excellence and was a charter inductee to the Bradford International Hall of Fame. In August of 1997, Kinkade was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the first time this award was presented to an artist.In 1982 he got married Nanette, and has 4 daughters from her.

Sounds like quite a guy! Who needs to hack off their ears to be a great artist, eh?

Nathan

-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), December 01, 2001.


In relation to the Thomas Kinkade controversy...unmitigated horror!! When I saw the 60 minutes piece it felt like watching a mass-murder taking place. How can anyone even discuss trash like that is beyond me!

I am sure anyone who considering his (art's) merit are the same who are crying foul that LaserJet prints are not photography. Some B&W and also some Ciba printers are doing much more "manipulations" to their prints.

Sorry, Geoffrey

-- Geoffrey Swenson (amicor@hotmail.com), December 01, 2001.


To the Thomas Kinkade controversy all I can add...unmitigated horror!!! How can anyone even consider his (art's) merit is beyond me. When I was watching the 60 minutes piece I felt I was seeing mass-murder taking place in front of my eyes! Possibly his suporters are the same ones who are crying foul that Lightjet photograps are not real photographs, even though some B&W and Ilfochrome printers use way more "manipulation" in their prints. Just see Michael Fatali's red stones, (remember he does not use filters and waits days for the light for days, "or makes his own"). I think even lipstick is not available in those shades. So the possible solution to duplicate Thomas Kinkade's success...mass- produce some mundane print and do some bleaching on them!! Voila real ART!!

Sorry,

Geoffrey

-- Geoffrey Swenson (amicor@hotmail.com), December 01, 2001.



Kinkade's paintings are way too assembly-line sentimental to be enjoyable, archival or not! I have a co-worker who just loves the stuff. I don't consider it my role to change her mind, but I do keep this year's Edward Hopper calendar displyed so all can see.

On the other hand, I can't fault anyone for making a living. Let's pretend I had a picture of cute little puppy dogs peeking their heads out from under a blanket, and everyone just loved it, and I had a chance to make a killing......hmmmm. Buys a lot of film.

Of course, we can only hope that the civilization comes to a graceful end before a Thomas Kinkade/Kenny G collaboration can occur.

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), December 01, 2001.


Kenny G. There's another one you can add to the list! Don't these folks bore themselves? I guess the sweet taste of financial success can act as an anesthetic to creativity and originality.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), December 01, 2001.

It's dreck. Just like the photos of the Weimeraers, just like the paintings of the kids with the saucer-sized eyes that look as if they were just released from Dachau. There's no soul, there's no spirit. It's a money-making enterprise pure and simple. Just because it's popular doesn't make it art. I hate to be the first to state this (and I hope it's not news) but the majority is almost always wrong. Just because the American public wouldn't recognize art it if it bit them in the a**, and goes for sloppy sentimentality over intellectual and emotionalinsight every time, is no reason to brand what is popular as "art". This is a country where poets starve, and professional athletes make more money in a year than the gross national product of all but a few countries. The previous poster who equated Thomas Kincade with Kenny G. was, in my estimation, spot on in his assessment. God help us all if it is archival! Sorry - rant over (gotta cut down on the sugar).

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), December 01, 2001.

In case anyone was confused I misspelled "Weimeraners" in my last rant. Add to my list of despised images those of naked infants with butterfly wings. And while I'm at is about the horrid taste of the American public I offer as further evidence the atrocities of "wine in a box" and "aerosol cheese food spread". Also the recent mutilation of the Chrysler Concorde commercial. My glycemic index must be through the roof! I'm going to go run some laps now. Bye.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), December 01, 2001.

Good rant, Wayne. At the risk of wandering even farther off topic, I can't help adding a few more abominations:

- Britney Spears

- 98 Degrees of Boyz 'n Sync (same thing, different sex)

- "reality" television

- recycled 60's tv shows as movies

- mens magazines that depict women holding their breasts on the cover (no one should be allowed to take that picture again, ever!)

- Volvos that aren't shaped like bricks

- tv evangelists with bad hair

- photographs whose sole message is, "I AM SCREAMING IN YOUR FACE! I WILL CONTINUE SCREAMING UNTIL YOU REACT AND THEREBY JUSTIFY MY EXISTENCE!"

- and of course, that final Horseman of the Apocalypse, the designated hitter.

Friends, when I get to be King, all this stuff is OUTA HERE. Be prepared.

Now, where's the Paxil........

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), December 01, 2001.



If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is STILL a foolish thing - Bertrand Russell

Perhaps the same can be said for liking Thomas Kincade prints!

- Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (photo_illustration@bigpond.com), December 02, 2001.


The next thing I expect to read is that if its not subsidized by the NEA than its not art. The joke is on all of you. The fact that it brings out deep emotions in the folks that like it. And even deeper emotion in the ones that loath it is proof enough that it is art. I have been selling my work for 55 years and was in art education at the college level for 35. And in those years I have learned that most artists are very selfish at the cost of other artists. By selling art at discount prices like Walmart just to make quick cash. Art is special it sells it self if your work does not strike enough emotion to sell for thousands of dollars than perhaps you are not as talented an artist as Thomas K. or perhaps not an artist at all. These "poster" have a life of about 50 years that's long enough for some. Very good topic of descussion.

-- Joseph S. (ls989@hotmail.com), December 02, 2001.

I'm still around. I think that painters are at a disadvantage when it comes to the question of what is "art". Photographers, songwriters, and practioners of other creative disciplines can present their work without the stigmatizing label of "art" having been applied. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to painters. "Painting" is labeled as art by the masses, regardless as to what's been placed on the canvas. We photographers all have "pretty pictures" lying around - I doubt that any of us would deem them to be "art". There are some magnificent songs that have been written - have any of you ever connected the word "art" with a song? But hang a painting on the wall, and you are now an "artist". I'm well acquainted with Kincade's work. My brother is a painter, sculptor, jeweler, engraver, woodcarver (artist?) and we visit as many gallerys as possible - I've been to one of Kincade's. His prints are "charming" in an overly cute, cloying, sentimental way - but what do they mean? What has the painter invested of himself to allow this work to be called "art". Just saying that it evokes an empotion in a viewer (good or bad) isn't enough. When I view photographs of Nazi Germany, or photographs of poor people suffering by Sabastio Salgado I feel emotions - are they art? If I step into a pile of dog crap I feel an emotion (am I now an "artist" performing a piece of "performance art"?), so what? My definition of what I percieve as art has evolved to the point where I question the validity of the word itself. In the end it's all "craft" - what elevates a certain work above the others to cause it to become art? Anyone who practices a craft is striving to be "artistic" and create "art" - who determines if they've been sucessful? Sorry, but I think that the concept of "art" is a flawed one. We label the things which we appreciate as "good art", those we hate as "bad art", and everything inbetween as "not art". When you reflect upon it, it's just plain silly. Of course the biggest joke is the "art critic". Someone who makes a living determining if others create good or bad art. That's why people buy $28,000 styrofoam coffee cups, and pay >$100,000 for Cindy Sherman photographs - because someone else has declared it art. When you've been around it for a long time you realize just what a joke it really is.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), December 02, 2001.

"No one ever went broke by underestimating the good taste of the American public." -P.T. Barnum

I looks like the cult of mediocrity has struck again and is growing uncontrolled! Please, send your kids to good private schools with an intelligent liberal arts curriculum. Only education (as opposed to "training") can stop this sort of "dumbing down". I'll keep trying my best to look the other way and ignore such questions as "What's a Mozart?".

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreth@compuserve.com), December 03, 2001.


Chris,

Without attempting to comment on the artistic values of his work . . . here goes. Having been, and still am, a commercial lithographer, (an a large format photographer) I can answer your original question. I worked at one of the L. A., CA based printing companies that printed several of Kincade's prints. Yes, these are produced by the standard four color process printing method and use standard, oil based printing inks. Take a look at any poster in any window at any retail store that faces the sun. The print will start to fade almost immediately. Most notably is process magenta, when yellow, then cyan, then black - in that order. Process magenta is called a fugitive color, even by the ink manufacturers. So . . . how long will a print last in direct sun? About a week. It may vanish off of the paper in six months. Inside your home under indirect lighting? . . . several years. Dark storage? . . . the acid in the paper will start to self destruct in a few decades.

Even my old B & W prints that have hung on may walls for years resist fading better than ink on paper.

Now, as for the artistic value of the man . . . that's a completely different matter.

Regards,

S. F.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), December 03, 2001.


Hey, Doremus, I don't care what other people think, I've got a Mozart painting and I love it! ;)

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), December 05, 2001.

I didn't think I'd ever heard of this guy, but looking through files for something yesterday I came across an article I'd clipped from the NY Times about one of Kinkade's enterprises, which involves real estate: he has draftsmen and builders make houses that look like the houses in his paintings, and people buy these houses and live in them, and hang the painting that the house was copied from, over the mantel.

-- Katharine Thayer (kthayer@pacifier.com), December 08, 2001.

I thought I read somewhere that Kenny G. purchased one of the Kincade homes. I also understand he had some saxaphone shaped streetlamps commissioned to line the walkway. Who said money can't buy taste?

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), December 08, 2001.

what bothers me is the marketing scam of christian beliefs in his paintings, adjusting the lighting up and down up and down over and over again to sell a three thousand dollar print that came out of a large inkjet printer. yes folks thats what a giclee is. ink jet with a little better quality ink but stil a dye ink

-- pete oneill (peteon@aol.com), March 23, 2002.

It is always best to say things like this with a song:

I AGREE WITH PAT METHENY (2001) 2001 Richard Thompson

"I agree with Pat Metheny Kenny's talents are too teeny He deserves the crap he's going to get He overdubbed himself on Louis What a musical chop suey Raised his head above the parapet

Well Louis Armstrong was the king He practically invented swing Hero of the twentieth century He did duets with many a fella "Fatha" Hines, Bing, Hoagy, Ella Strange he never thought of Kenny G

A meeting of great minds, how nice Like Einstein and Sporty Spice Digitally fused in an abortion Kenny fans will doubtless rave While Satchmo turns inside his grave Soprano man's bit off more than his portion

Oh brainless pentatonic riffs Display our Kenny's arcane gifts But we don't care, his charms are so beguiling He does play sharp, but let's be fair He has such lovely crinkly hair We hardly notice, we're too busy smiling

How does he hold those notes so long? He must be a genius. Wrong! He just has the mindlessness to do it He makes Britney sound like scat If this is jazz I'll eat my hat An idle threat, I'll never have to chew it

So next time you're in a rendezvous And Kenny's sound comes wafting through Don't just wince, eliminate the cause Rip the tape right off the muzak Pull the plug, or steal a fuse, Jack The whole room will drown you in applause

Yes, Kenny G has gone too far The gloves are off, it's time to spar Grab your hunting rifle, strap your colt on It's open season on our Ken But I await the moment when We lay off him and start on Michael Bolton

I agree with Pat Metheny Kenny's talents are too teeny."

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), March 24, 2002.


http://www.salon.com has had a couple of articles recently on the Kincade subdivisions (which are just generic tract houses) and the Kincade novel (which was written by the lesser-credited coauthor).

-- Michael Chmilar (chmilar@acm.org), March 25, 2002.

I think that there is some sort of subliminal message in his paintings-something that forces people to buy them. No other explination I can see for his popularity. His crap isn't on par with pictures of Elvis on black velvet. I have family members that spend fortunes on Kincade garbage. Paintings, switchplates, towels, dishes, you name it. Kincade toilet paper if they made it.{probably do by now}. I think if Tom says so, they'll sign over all their assets to him and move to Guyana.

-- Stu Weinstein (stuems@erols.com), May 13, 2002.

Anyone who watches television has no reason to complain about Kinkade or the other formula "art" that is sold today.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), May 13, 2002.

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