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, artnet and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 19,000+ 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 release of Thomas Kinkade's autopsy has re-fueled mainstream art world bashing of the late artist. I've observed people 'knocking' his accidental overdose on several NY art blogs (Art Fag City, Hyperallergic... etc.). The 'bashing' tends to point out that Kinkade was a Christian and a conservative -- and that he did not 'live up' to either based on his life choices. Oddly enough, the people criticizing Kinkade for his life choices are the same people who tend to champion choice -- in all things... at least on the surface.
There is so much hate surrounding the criticism of Thomas Kinkade... all because he happened to be a Christian AND a popular artist outside of the mainstream circles of the art world. So much so that some critics have had to stress that their criticism has nothing to do with Kinkade's religious preference. If you have studied public speaking you know that 'making things clear' in this manner is often a sign that IT does have something to do with the criticism (if it doesn't... why mention that it doesn't?). These 'mirror acts', distracting from the problem of religious intolerance within the mainstream art world, are becoming tiresome.
On Art Fag City a commenter stated, "I love that he was the art hero for the self-righteous conservatives." -- the comment, though not as 'hardcore' as other comments I've read elsewhere, was clearly posted in malice considering the context of the article. In response to the comment, I say -- I love that Andy Warhol attended church almost daily -- helped pay for his nephews religious studies -- and respected the concept of faith that so many within the NY art world 'bash' today. I don't think Warhol would agree with the rampant hostility towards Christianity that exists today... hostility that appears to dominate the NY art scene. I doubt that you will find any NY art writer willing to criticize Andy Warhol for the interest he had in Christianity.
I'll take this further: something tells me that if Thomas Kinkade had been an atheist -- or at least a Muslim -- NY art writers would not be 'knocking' him for his addictions and the life choices he made. If that were the scenario it would be considered 'intolerant' to criticize him, right? OR it would be something that these guttersnipes would not want to 'touch' out of fear of being 'politically incorrect'. They prowl for the easy target... and only strike if they know their 'pack' will take part in the 'kill'.
The hypocrisy -- and dare I say, contradictions -- coming from the NY art world is both amusing and unsettling. After all, if you point out the addictions that the late Dash Snow had (which 'NY insider's' treated as being 'cute' up until it killed him... and then only treated as an afterthought) -- and that he was basically a spoiled brat from an extremely wealthy family... knee deep in oil -- who treated women as drug-induced sex objects... those 'insiders' will scream 'intolerance' and rant about how you are being 'hateful'. OR they will rant about how you don't 'understand' what he was doing with his photographs and other works. There is something to be said for irony.
The message is clear: it is acceptable to point out personal flaws (and joke about them) depending on the political / social leanings of the artist. It is 'safe' to point out the flaws of an artist who happened to be Christian or conservative (any attack in that direction is OK)... but it goes against the 'pack' to point out the personal flaws of a deceased artist who happened to be extremely liberal. The death of Dash Snow was handled respectfully by the NY art scene-- not because of his art... it was handled respectfully because it would have been a 'wrench in the machine' to have done otherwise.
With the above in mind, it appears that death by overdose is only amusing in association with artist Thomas Kinkade as far as the mainstream art world is concerned. I base my opinion on comments that I've read on various art blogs / art forums -- specifically those with a NY / mainstream art world following -- concerning Kinkade's overdose and death. When 'one of their own' dies... you can bet that the situation will be handled with some grace.
The mainstream art world needs to focus on a little self-reflection rather than laughing about the death of artist Thomas Kinkade: Was it 'good for a laugh' when Dash Snow died from an overdose? What about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat -- was his death funny? Perhaps the overdose/death of artist Sebastian Horsley is 'good for a giggle'? I suppose those three were 'noble addicts', right? You tell me. OR perhaps they were shown respect because of the personal/social preferences they embraced? Why is Thomas Kinkade treated differently -- hatefully -- compared to these other flawed individuals? Again, you tell me.
The hypocrisy of the NY art world -- and the mainstream art world in general -- is clear. With the death of Thomas Kinkade -- and the response from that 'world', the auction of The Scream -- and the response from that 'world', and the sudden acceptance of ArtPrize by key individual$ from that 'world'... it seems to me that 2012 is the year that said 'world' has revealed just how hypocritical -- bathed in contradictions -- it can be.
Take care, Stay true,