Kinkade and Corrie: the Ugly Truth

The demise of Thomas Kinkade at the stupidly young age of 54 has forced me, screaming, to grit my teeth, brace myself, and have another look at his stuff. (I say ‘stuff’ ‘cos I can’t quite manage to make my digits type the ‘a’-word in this context.)

Ghastly, isn’t it, this Disneyfication of nostalgia, this cynical selling of a dream that never was, of ‘home’ and ‘family’ (complete with faithful spotty dog), to, especially, evangelical, conservative ‘God-bothering’ folk who we (I) feel should really know better and get a grip. And all the more contemptible to an art snob (me) because, as my pal reminded me, Kinkade actually could paint:

Yes, they’re both by that same, now sadly stilled, fair hand.
SELL-OUT!! TRAITOR!! PHILISTINE!!

But then, as we say Up North, I caught myself on.
The painting at the top of the post is called Home Is Where the Heart Is. Coincidentally (not really), that is also the title, pretty much, of a recent(ish) Sunday evening schlock-fest on UK telly – you know the type: vets, doctors, posh folk, midwives, village policemen, all set in a lazy-hazy version of long-gone ‘good old days’ and designed to make us forget for an hour the fact that in 12 hours we’ll be grumpily going off to a job we loathe.  Both painting and TV series are operating from exactly the same basis (note the central church tower in each) : as a palliative against present, here-and-now dissatisfaction and discontent. (This is very much a political issue, but if I go down that route now I’ll bore myself to death, so I won’t.)

But more disturbing for me, a rabid fan, is the gruesome admission that Coronation Street, that very finest of soaps, operates from, gulp, this basis too. (Eastenders sucks: not enough jokes, and where else, other than in Corrie, would you get actors like Ian McKellen and Nigel Havers ripping the piss out of themselves?) Corrie offers us a vision of a tight-knit northern community (it’s always about ‘community’), centred around a ‘real’ pub, where everyone knows everyone else’s business and where, eventually, everything comes right in the end. It’s a place which I, born amongst the cobbles, think I know, but it’s no more ‘true’ than Kinkade’s ‘cottage fantasies’.
I love it.

So where does that leave me? Admittedly I’m not one of those who conflate the actor with the character and shout abuse in Asda at ‘Richard Evil Twat Hillman’ and ‘Sally Daft Cow Webster’, but I do buy wholeheartedly into Corrie (ask my husband) and its premise; like Kinkade’s paintings are for some, for me Corrie is comfort food, a place to escape to, somewhere (unless Ken’s having one of his perennial, kimono-akimbo, stomach-turning affairs) better.

So there you have it. If I diss Kinkade I’m not only an art snob, I’m a hypocrite. And that, my friends, would never do.
My Dalmatians would hate me.

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18 thoughts on “Kinkade and Corrie: the Ugly Truth

  1. Well…this gave me pause for thought. I hate his work personally, but I do buy into a happy ending though not one I think isn’t really within our grasp/only a temporary escape (by “our” I mean humanity)

    Maybe it’s all the same thing, but different levels of political vs ideological belief, I don’t know. What I do know, is that exclusivity via religion and politics doesn’t serve us and that I’m afraid is going to take awhile to let go of.

    • Thanks so much for the comment, Mary. I do kinda think that it is all the same thing – the stories we tell ourselves and have told to us by others, and all art, music, literature, requires some level of suspension of disbelief. Where it’s dangerous, I think, is when we refuse to discriminate about the rubbish we are being sold, simply because it serves our own ideological agenda. I like a happy ending as much as the next person – sometimes we need that release – but that shouldn’t stop us from recognising bullshit for what it is.

  2. If you feel like an art snob for dissing his work, feel free to diss his repulsive personal behavior, the way he used his godbag religion to flog cheap prints as if they were “originals”, the way he scammed his galleries, the ticky-tacky housing project he lent his name too…the list is endless.

    There’s nothing wrong with pretty pictures. These pictures aren’t pretty, though. When I think of pretty, I think of Impressionists. Renoirs are pretty. Monets are pretty. These pictures are ugly without depth, repulsively treacly and insulting to the intelligence of all who view them.

    Did I mention I have some toxic godbag relatives I haven’t spoken to in years because they are crazy people who hate everyone and everything on the planet? They have a huge flipping Kinkade print on their wall. Right next to a tapestry of dogs playing poker. So maybe I have a personal stake in this.

    • Hahaha… yes, maybe you do, just a teeny-tiny, ickle-wickle one. Didn’t know he was quite such an asshole, tho’. Thanks.

  3. It’s what it stands for that makes it crap, that and the sickly imagery. I’ll never ‘get’ Corrie, it’s a failing I’ve learned to live with.

  4. Surprising that in these ‘Good Old Days’ there is no TB, infant mortality or dirt. Oddly enough, that still from ‘Where theHeart is’ reminds me of the title sequence of the 80s comedy ‘Brass’.

    • Is that you, old chap? Or is it someone masquerading as a priest, who should be arrested immediately? How lovely that you’ve visited my blog…do you have one too?

      • It is indeed, Glen. I do enjoy following your blog, but haven’t one myself – I’m not that computer literate!

  5. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to hear that you enjoy it, Neil. It really is. I’m not at all comp lit, but I like having a go at stuff and I usually discover it’s a lot easier than it looks. Mind you, I have acres of time to faff and fanny about – and it can be addictively time-wasting. I do find blogging a great way of getting rid of the rubbish that rattles round my head, though.
    Thanks again, old bean. Chuffed! xx

  6. Good grief those are some ghastly pictures. I feel slightly ill. I liked your writing about them though. And there’s aussie versions of that ‘Home is where the Heart

  7. yeah so loved your post. Not so thrilled to find us evangelical God bothering folk lumped together as lovers of that kind of treacle tho 😉

    • Cheers, Ryan! Yeah, apols for the ‘lumping’; that was horribly unfair on ‘God-botherers’ with taste, you and my pal Neil (above) being incontrovertible proof of their existence. 🙂

  8. People are trying to be fair to Kinkade. The guy made a lot of money. Good for him. But his work is no more art than Hallmark greetings are poetry. OR. His work is art. Just shitty art. Moronic art. I would say that it lacks the integrity of Winston Churchill’s paintings. Or Adolf Hitler’s pieces. Not because its about fantasy. But because it doesn’t tell a story. There is no there, there.

    • I’d say it’s not art simply because it’s not true: as you say it has no integrity. This is a vital component of ‘art’ for me. I’ve seen ‘bad’ art that has integrity, and this ain’t it. It’s cynical. I think it does tell a story – but not the one it intends to: again, epic fail.
      Thanks again, David; appreciate it.

  9. I don’t know much about Kinkade, but the first picture (sans church) reminded me of the cynically irreverent take on suburbia found in Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. It’s a video game series, not the first place one looks for art, but it’s a spin off of the Penny Arcade Comic strip, and so it is absolutely rife with comic-book art design and their particular brand of cynical social commentary. If that’s up you’re alley, I’d highly recommend, if not, I figure it was a long shot.

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