Thomas Kinkade and the Democratization of Art

The Takeaway

Thomas Kinkade, the self-appointed “Painter of Light,” died last Friday. In the days since his passing, the debate that surrounded him when he was alive has grown even louder. On the one side are the art establishment, who look down their noses at Kinkade’s shopping mall galleries, mass-produced product lines, and highly saturated images of simpler times. On the other side are Kinkade’s fans, who see his work as inspiring and accessible. Was Kinkade a great democratizer of art or a charlatan businessman? Susan Orlean penned one of the most comprehensive pieces ever written on Thomas Kinkade for the New Yorker in 2001, entitled “Art for Everybody.”

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