My velvet Elvis means the world to me

June 22, 2009

News from the art world: Noted purveyor of manufactured schlock Thomas Kinkaid must pay $2.1 million to two former gallery owners who say he “duped them into investing their life’s savings in a doomed enterprise.” (H/T: Pandagon)

…Because, as any reputable critic would tell you, challenging, socially relevant works of art like this one were bound to prove an investment-quality asset, the market value of which would only rise. Yeah.

It gets better: according to the article: “Kinkade and other company officials used terms like “partner,” “trust,” “Christian” and “God” to create “a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust.”

Now, one could simply say: “businesses that use evangelical Christians as their customer base exploit that faith to get them into fucked-up financial situations,” and leave it at that.

But come on! It’s not like they were paying to Get Out of Hell Free or rid themselves of body thetans — you know, some immaterial and therefore unfalsifiable spiritual benefit. At least that makes a certain kind of sense — after all, if you already believe in pie in the sky when you die, why not tip the maitre d’ for a good table?

But no, these rubes spent their life savings — their life savings — on Thomas Kinkaid paintings! That’s not pie in the sky when you die, that’s shitting on a plate and calling it chocolate ice cream! It’s right there in front of them, in all its awfulness, and yet they wilfully disregard the evidence of their own senses.

I mean, look at this stuff. Just LOOK AT IT. Forget awarding them financial compensation — if I were the judge I’d order their drivers’ licenses permanently revoked, on the grounds of impaired vision.

Seriously, on what level did this even resemble a sound business investment? Even the stuff Amway peddles is at least somewhat useful.

Now, since to my great surprise I’ve actually been getting comments on this blog, I expect I’ll be getting some angry ones on this post. Let me attempt to answer them in advance.

Angry comment #1: Kinkaid’s paintings are luminous canvases of wonder! Millions of people love them! I love them! Who are you to say he’s a bad artist? Etc.!
My response: This is a painting of some water lilies. This is a painting of a sad-eyed clown. One of them is good art. The other one is not. Which one is which? For extra credit: read this essay on the definitions of “camp,” “kitsch” and “trash.” Which of these words define Kinkaid’s body of work? (Hint: this question has more than one possible answer.)

Angry post #2: “Kinkaid’s paintings are an inspiring message of faith! His work embodies Christian values! Of course you don’t like it, you heathen! Etc.!”
My response: The museums of the world are full of Christian art that doesn’t suck. In fact, plenty of other people today are capable of making Christian art that doesn’t suck. As for Kinkaid, to paraphrase Hank Hill, his brand of Christian art doesn’t make Christianity better, it makes art worse. Now, go read my response to Angry Comment #1.

Angry comment #3: Kinkaid’s paintings are worthless garbage — but so is Domino’s Pizza, and millions of people buy it anyway! That’s why there are so many franchises, and that’s what these people bought, a franchise to sell a popular product!They have every right to sue for getting ripped off! Stop blaming the victim! Etc.!
My response: That’s like the setup for a bad joke: “Do you know what the difference is between a Kinkaid painting and a Domino’s pizza?” “One’s a tasteless mass of cardboard, grease and artificial coloring that’s unfit for human consumption– the other one is a pizza.”
Get it? The joke is, the pizza gets eaten, right … but at some point, everyone who likes Kincaid paintings will have bought one already. Then what? Of course you can make a small fortune selling art. It helps to start with a large one. Now, read my responses to Angry Comments #1 and #2 above.

Angry comment #4: “Dude, nice Weird Al reference in the title!”
My response: Thank you. I aim to please.

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