Thomas Kinkade Controversy

American painter William Kinkade III (January 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012) was known for his depictions of beautiful landscapes and pastoral scenes. By using the Thomas Kinkade Company’s mass marketing of his art, he was able to achieve great success while he was still alive and well. A duplicate of a Kinkade picture can be found in one in twenty American homes, according to the artist’s company.

J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) was previously referred to as a “Painter of Light” by Kinkade, which he trademarked and protected.

Criticism was leveled at Kinkade’s demeanor and business procedures, as well as the “kitsch” nature of his artwork. At the age of 54, Thomas Kinkade passed away from “acute intoxication” caused by alcohol and the medication diazepam.

Early Life

Thomas Kinkade Controversy

On January 19, 1958, William Kinkade was born in Sacramento County, California. In 1976, he graduated from El Dorado High School in Placerville and went on to the University of California, Berkeley, and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He was born and raised in Placerville.

People like Charles Bell and Glenn Wessels mentored Kinkade before he went to college. Wessels was a big supporter of Kinkade’s decision to attend UC Berkeley. The connection between Kinkade and Wessels was the basis of the semi-autobiographical film Christmas Cottage, which was released in 2008. Kinkade completed two years of general study at Berkeley before transferring to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.


Thomas Kinkade Controversy

Kinkade and his undergraduate friend James Gurney spent the summer of 1980 on a road trip across the United States. A contract to make a sketchbook was signed with Guptill Publications in New York, where the two of them had ended their voyage. The Artist’s Guide to Sketching was one of Guptill Publications’ most popular books of the year two years later.

This led to them both working at Ralph Bakshi Studios on the 1983 animated feature film Fire and Ice, in which they contributed background art. Kinkade began experimenting with light and imagined worlds while making the movie.

Later, Kinkade worked as a painter and sold his works in galleries all throughout California after the film’s release.

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Controversy and criticism

Thomas Kinkade Controversy


However, despite his economic success, Kinkade’s work has been widely critiqued by art critics. Susan Orlean, the author of The Kitsch Master, referred to Kinkade’s death in April 2012 as the passing of a “kitsch master.” Journalist Laura Miller ridiculed Kinkade’s works as “a collection of garish cottage paintings” in the same month.

By selling prints on QVC, for example, Kinkade drew fire from critics who said he over-commercialized his work. According to Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club, “To his detractors, he represents the triumph of sub-mediocrity and the commercialization and homogenization of painting […] perhaps no other painter has been as shameless or as successful in transforming himself into a corporation as Kinkade.” he wrote in 2009.

A “mall artist” or “chocolate box artist,” rather than an accomplished painter, is what most people refer to him as among them. “A maudlin, sickeningly romantic image of a world where everything is as pleasant as a nice cup of hot chocolate on a cold December day” was how Rabin characterized Kinkade’s works later on.

For example, Kinkade once stated, “I am definitely the most controversial artist on this planet.”

Business practices:

Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery franchises have accused Kinkade’s Media Arts Group Inc. of unfair business practices. Karen Hazlewood and Jeffrey Spinello were granted $860,000 in damages and $1.2 million in fees and expenses in 2006 because Kinkade’s company “failed to disclose material facts” that would have prevented them from investing in the gallery.

After interest and legal fees, the award was raised to $2.8 million. Plaintiffs and other ex-gallery owners also claimed that they were compelled to open other galleries that weren’t financially feasible, were forced to accept pricey and unsalable merchandise and were undersold by discount stores whose pricing they weren’t allowed to compete with.

oth Kinkade and Media Arts Group vehemently deny the charges and have successfully defended themselves against similar suits brought by other former gallery owners in the past. The arbitration board’s conclusion of fraud did not specifically mention Kinkade by name.

The Los Angeles Times reported in August 2006 that the FBI was looking into these issues and that agents from offices across the country were interviewing witnesses and suspects.

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Several ex-gallery representatives have claimed that the firm exploited people’s religious beliefs in order to enrich itself. Former dealers who requested anonymity remarked, “They truly knew how to bait the hook.”. There’s no doubt that they drew on the Christian faith.”

According to a lawyer for a former dealer, “Because Kinkade was pitched as a religious opportunity, most of my clients became involved. It’s bad enough to be cheated, but to do so in the name of God is just heinous.”

After failing to pay Karen Hazlewood and Jeffrey Spinello a $1 million court-ordered payment on June 2, 2010, Pacific Metro, the artist’s production firm, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Previously, a payment of $5000 had been made.

A total of 350 individually owned Kinkade franchises have been documented in court filings dating back to 1997. This number had been reduced by more than half by May 2005. During this time, Kinkade earned $50 million. Initial beginning costs range from $80,000 to $150,000 for franchisees.

Personal conduct:

The Los Angeles Times noted that some of Kinkade’s former colleagues, employees, and even collectors of his work said he had a lengthy history of swearing and heckling other artists and performances. The New York Times also stated that he fondled a woman’s breasts at a sales event in South Bend, Indiana and that he urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figurine at Disneyland while saying, “This one’s for you, Walt.” Exaggerated and outright falsified personal claims” were made about alcohol-related situations in Kinkade’s letter to licensed gallery owners, he wrote to them. There was no mention of a specific occurrence in the letter.

In 2006, Media Arts Group CEO John Dandois recalled a story about Kinkade becoming drunk and yelling “Codpiece! Codpiece!” at performers during a Siegfried & Roy magic show in Las Vegas six years prior. By the time his mother arrived, he had calmed down. As for Kinkade, Dandois stated, “Thom would be good, but then all of a sudden, you couldn’t tell where the boundary was, and then he got extremely incoherent and he would start cussing and doing a lot of odd stuff. You couldn’t tell where the boundary was.” Carmel, California, police arrested Kinkade for drunken driving in June of that year. Later, he was convicted of a crime.

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