'Warrior for light' a hot seller after his death
Updated: 2012-04-15 07:38
By Associated Press in San Francisco (China Daily)
Thomas Kinkade's sentimental paintings were loved by the public but scorned by critics. Associated Press File Photo
Galleries that sell the work of Thomas Kinkade are reporting a surge in sales following the popular painter's death at age 54.
Kinkade, whose brushwork paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been big sellers for dealers across the United States, died on April 6.
Outlets across the United States say they're calling in extra help to handle unprecedented demand from customers placing orders in person, on the phone and online.
At Kinkade's original gallery in his hometown of Placerville, California, co-owner Nathan Ross says one Kinkade original sold over the weekend for $150,000.
John Vassallo, who owns five Kinkade galleries in New York and New Jersey, says sales on Saturday reached half his typical sales for the entire month of December.
Kinkade called himself the "Painter of Light," and his sentimental paintings, with their scenes of country gardens and churches in dewy morning light, were beloved by many but reviled as "schmaltz" by the art establishment.
He claimed to be the nation's most collected living artist, and his paintings and spin-off products were said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million homes in the United States, though sales had slumped during the economic crisis and some of his galleries have closed.
Those light-infused renderings are often prominently displayed in buildings, malls, and on products - generally depicting tranquil scenes with lush landscaping and streams running nearby. Many contain images from Bible passages.
"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, a reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."
Before Kinkade's Media Arts Group went private in the middle of the past decade, the company took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country, according to the Mercury News. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.
His website touts his Disney collection a gallery locator, and a wide range of works and products with Kinkade images including artworks, prints and coffee mugs.
His artistic philosophy was not to express himself through his paintings like many artists, but rather to give the masses what they wanted: warm, positive images, Ken Raasch, who co-founded Kinkade's company with him, told the Mercury News.
"I'd see a tree as being green, and he would see it as 47 different shades of green," Raasch said. "He just saw the world in a much more detailed way than anyone I've ever seen."
As a young man, Kinkade traveled by boxcar from California to New York with fellow fledgling artist, James Gurney, sketching the American landscape along the way.
The site says that with these sketches in hand, the two were able to get published The Artist Guide to Sketching in 1982, a book that helped land him a job creating background art for animated films.
Also that year, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette, to whom he frequently paid tribute to by hiding her name and those of his four daughters within his paintings.