This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 18,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
The death of artist Thomas Kinkade has triggered a 'barrage of arrows' from specific circles of the mainstream art world. Notable art critics, ranging from Jerry Saltz to Paddy Johnson, have taken it upon themselves to offer one last 'jab' while, as the saying goes, the corpse is still warm. Their critical hostility, if you will, has revealed a number of contradictions when compared to the usual rhetoric spewed in support of artwork favored by their circles -- those 'power structures' they adamantly support. In that sense, the passing of Kinkade has offered insight into the mentality of the mainstream art world in general.
I find it interesting that art critic Jerry Saltz took it upon himself to imply that Kinkade was embraced by the mainstream media. I, for one, must have failed to notice the mainstream media domination that Saltz suggests of Kinkade -- at least when compared to media buzz surrounding individuals whom Saltz would likely accept as being 'an artist'... you know the type: the typical far-left visual hell-raiser dishing out the same tired work that may have been truly shocking... a decade ago. The mainstream media --in general -- is more apt to focus on artists from Jerry's circle of the art world. Period. I suppose mainstream art critics take offense when an artist breaks down those professional barriers.
That sums it up in my opinion -- the message between the lines is that art critic Jerry Saltz feels that only artists from his 'world' -- a 'world' described as a 'liberal festival' by art critic Ken Johnson -- should receive mainstream media exposure. Saltz clearly feels that his 'world' of art should be the only circle of the art world embraced by the public (an attitude that is predominately shared by others who open the same gallery doors)... and he is 'stomping mad' that an artist outside of that circle has nabbed more than 15 minutes of fame. That is what his 'jab' at artist Thomas Kinkade is really about... if you read between the lines.
In my opinion, Jerry's anger toward the marketing success -- and mass public appreciation -- of artist Thomas Kinkade is 10 fold due to the fact that Kinkade happened to be politically conservative, socially conservative and Christian -- three preferences that Saltz routinely bashes on his Facebook Wall (along with the majority of his active 'friends' and subscribers -- among those who actively comment on his Wall). Saltz may claim that those preferences have nothing to do with his 'jab' against Kinkade... if that is the case -- why did he bother writing about Kinkade in the first place? Why does it seem as if he (and other mainstream art critics) is on the defensive over an artist who 'does not matter' to him or his 'world'? Food for thought.
This is what is happening: One artist does extremely well at receiving exposure outside of the mainstream art critic 'world'... and suddenly they go into 'attack mode' upon his death. These art critics are mad because Kinkade received a little mainstream buzz outside of their dictation. They are angry because he was extremely successful -- showing that an artist can be embraced by the public without traveling in their circles. Point-blank -- if the Kinkade style artist rules the mainstream media... I'm not seeing it in the way that Saltz implies. Saltz knows this... but he can't help himself -- he must pull the 'conservatives are maniacs' card, while playing the role of victim... even when the target of his criticism is a recently deceased individual who happened to 'make it' without his acknowledgement.
On the other hand, anything remotely 'shocking' from what I like to call the mainstream art world (that 'world' of high profile NY art galleries, art magazines, and so on -- Jerry's 'world') has a high chance of being commented on by the mainstream media. After all, the 'gallery world' is another industry, if you will, where you will find that only a very small percent of the industry gains mainstream media exposure. Point blank -- a mom & pop art gallery in Arizona could be doing (financially) 10 times better than a gallery in NY and never receive mainstream press... but if that NY art gallery -- months away from having the doors closed for the last time -- does something 'shocking'... BAM, coverage. Mainstream art critics are embedded in that 'world' and rarely, if ever, step outside of it -- no matter how much impact an artist outside of said 'world' has had on the public.
In Part 2 I will further explore the political side of criticism against artist Thomas Kinkade and his artwork. In addition to that, I will comment on the ‘kitsch factor’ surrounding Kinkade's artwork... AND on how mainstream art critics tend to be wary of leaving their 'comfort zone' when viewing -- and writing about -- art... the irony being, they make a point of challenging the 'comfort zone' of Thomas Kinkade fans.
Take care, Stay true,