this exists

Not only does it exist, but in duplicated form it occupies wall space above godknows how many sofas in the US at this very moment.

The originator of this image, one Thomas Kinkade, died on Friday, and may he rest in peace.

If I start writing about what this situation, and the above example of his work,  evokes in me, I’ll never quit, so better to let “Thom” (as he liked to spell it) speak for himself;

There’s been million-seller books and million-seller CDs. But there hasn’t been, until now, million-seller art. We have found a way to bring to millions of people, an art that they can understand.

His work reminds of nothing so much as the renderings of “harmony and well being” represented by illustrations in Jehovah’s Witness leaflets as what we can expect after the coming of the Lord. The next one, that is.

Don’t fret — the bald eagle emerging from the lightning bolt (!) is probably one of those vegan eagles, and wouldn’t dream of … well, you know.

None of this is my cup of tea, unfortunately. I’m more of an “Elvis on velvet” kinda guy, myself.

146 Responses to this exists

  1. Anonymous says:

    That picture was part of a Disney series. I wonder what they thought or if they got a cut?

  2. NatashaFatale says:

    I wonder what they thought or if they got a cut?

    They go

  3. NatashaFatale says:

    (well, that was ugly)

    They got their cut, Anonymous, or they’d have had his ass in court long before anyone else got to him. The Mouse don’t mess around.

  4. Bluthner says:

    sounds like your idea of education is what most would call indoctrination.

    That’s what Frothy keeps saying about sending kids to college! You guys seem to be sailing in the same boat!

  5. Elena says:

    I fully comprehend that Miles Davis was a genius and my jaw drops at his musicianship. I just don’t really like to listen to it


    Even I – a jazz fan – have to be in the mood.

    Great thead – I am late due to Easter frivolities.

    I am a great lover of poster art – you just need alot of wall space. The graphic designs are brilliant. But they are mainly advertising. They were not originally made to be hung on people’s walls.

    But the colors and designs are very sophisticated in my view. Especially the French ones made in the 20’s. Check out Cassandre. Razzia is a good modern graphic artist.

    Kitsch is alot of fun too.

    Kinkdade? I guess its easy on the eye.

  6. Tommydog says:

    Bluth, you’re going to have to do better than that. First you bring up a comparison between Kinkade and NAZI propaganda. Then you said education was the answer to appreciating finer art. When I pointed out that Kinkade had a pretty decent education, you imply that he and Karl Rove together are only using their educations to con the rubes. That leaves an implication that the education you favour results in a common mindset, though how that’s going to happen in a country of over 310M million I don’t know. You might explain how it could.

    Based on what I’ve learnt in the past 24 hours, I don’t think I’d buy Kinkaid’s paintings if he were the only artist in the world, but I don’t see the point in sweating that plenty of people, presumably all rubes, do.

  7. Bluthner says:


    you still keep turning what I said around 180 degrees. I guess that must be because I didn’t say it clearly.

    I don’t want to stop people from buying that shit. They should be able to buy whatever they want. What I am lamenting is

    a.) an educated guy would stoop to whoring whatever talent he had in that way. sure he made lots of money, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. I never said he didn’t paint that way because he didn’t know better, I said he painted that way knowing it was utter rubbish but pleased all the same to take people’s money for it, and

    b.) that so many people have so little experience or knowledge of the artistic heritage of the human race that they could even look at execrations like that longer than they would require to turn away and spit.

    Kinkade’s paintings are extremely reminiscent of Nazi approved art, though not so much of Nazi propaganda, which was, sadly, often of a much higher artistic standard, as well as of Stalinist approved art, tho again not of the propaganda, which was also generally of a higher standard. And that’s not a coincidence, because it’s all aimed at the same thing: the big lie. About… everything.

    I in no way suggest that exposing human beings to their long history of thought and artistic endeavor would ever result in a uniform set of tastes or thoughts or political ideas or anything at all. Education doesn’t do anything, if it is a proper education, except teach people to think for themselves and expose them to everything that human being have thought about up to now. That’s all I want.

    What I am absolutely sure about, though, is that there is no educated human being on earth who would find one of those monstrosities to be beautiful. We have all admitted we find poker playing dogs to be amusing, but nobody thinks they are beautiful. Same goes for black-velvet Elvis and cartoon characters.

    Those paintings are like litmus paper: any culture where a large part of the population thinks they are beautiful is a culture which lying charlatans are going to find rich pickings. THAT’S why I lament the bloody things.

  8. Expat says:

    …..the big lie. About… everything.

    Which is?

  9. Tommydog says:

    Ah, this is too easy a stick to poke with. Even Natasha is seeing the humor in this thread. There is kitsch everywhere. There is probably no society without it. I have friends who hang Japanese art on their walls. It is attractive, but I have lived in Japan. There is probably more kitsch per capita in Japan than there is here. Hello Kitty was everywhere. You should see the massive comic books grown men devour in Japan. Educated men at that. Yet Japanese art is widely admired because their kitsch is simply ignored. There is also plenty of kitsch to be found in Latin America, and gawd knows in Australia, another place where I have spent considerable time.

    Kinkade’s pictures are pure kitsch. So what? Enough people liked it that they bought them. He made money at it. He apparently owned stores in malls. He paid rent to landlords who employed staff. Kinkade employed staff. Dealers made commissions and they employed staff. If you want to call their customers tastes unsophisticated, or more impolitely, call them rubes, fine. Have at it. But the leap in logic that lack of sophistication in the arts and entertainments one enjoys somehow translates into less worthiness of the society in which they live or in the political policies one favors is one that can be lampooned all day.

  10. Bluthner says:


    The big lie?

    That there are easy answers, that human life is not awkward and contradictory, That final truths of any kind may be reached, that there is some ideal order of life on earth which may be attained and that all that is necessary is to establish it, that anything which is good cannot be in conflict with anything else which is also good, that the earth’s resources are boundless, that any man anywhere is an island.

    I could go on.

  11. Bluthner says:

    somehow translates into less worthiness

    See, again, that’s what I never said.

    I said it proves they are wide open marks to bad people who are willing to exploit their gullibility.

    And all that kitsch you talk about, yeah, it’s all over, it’s even in my house, but I bet all of it you have ever seen in your friends’ houses is there because it’s a joke, it’s amusing, it’s funny.

    Kinkade just can’t be read that way. That’s why it’s worse than all the rest. But again, I’m not saying anyone who thinks it’s beautiful isn’t worthy, I’m saying they are in grave danger of being taken for a very bad ride. One they are not going to like. Getting rid of the ‘art’ won’t get rid of their gullibility. Doing something about their gullibility WILL however get rid of the the art.

  12. Di-Ohso says:

    At first I thought his artwork was the factory sort. Over here you can buy a genuine oil on canvas for around £15 dollars from a home decor store. They’re usually simple but quite effective and pleasant to the eye. None are on that scale of ridiculousness.

    I’m no expert, but I always thought that when you viewed or bought art, you were buying a piece of the artists soul, certainly for a brief space of time his/her vision, and if his/her view connects in some way you ‘like’ it.

    He ‘connected’ to a lot of people. I can’t get my head around that. But then, there are those that gush over a pieces of modern art consisting of a skinned animals preserved in a glass case. Or an old shed. Does that make them more discerning? More clever? Or just richer?.
    It beats me!

  13. Elena says:

    But the leap in logic that lack of sophistication in the arts and entertainments one enjoys somehow translates into less worthiness of the society in which they live or in the political policies one favors is one that can be lampooned all day


    Well, maybe it is not logic. But who wants to live in a society that has only Jersey Shore on television but not Mad Men or the Sopranos.

    Who wants to live in a society that values Kincade but not Van Gogh?

  14. Bluthner says:


    wouldn’t spend a spare dime on anything of Koons myself, but his kind of kitsch isn’t really what we are talking about, because no one anywhere, least of all him, thinks any of it is beautiful. Clever, tongue-in-cheek, whatever, if that winds your watch, but not beautiful.

  15. Pornstar says:

    Bluth –

    The only ones of Koons’ work i’d spend more than a dime on is the series with his ex-wife. But his work does ask some questions, the man has a brain.

    But Kincade, beautiful? Looks like vomit on canvas to me.

  16. Di-Ohso says:

    I’ve just thought: perhaps it’s because even as a child I didn’t like Disney’s view of the world, pretend or otherwise. I liked fairy stories and can clearly remember being disgusted at how he portrayed them.

    If you wanted to tip me into insanity, send me to DisneyWorld :)

  17. Tommydog says:

    world over, we all live in a society where there is more kitsch than not. Both co-exist. Ironically though, those who favour the kitsch don’t much worry about the Van Gogh’s, but those who favour Van Gogh do seem to want to sweat the kitsch. And hey, one day at least some of that kitsch will be treasured as folk art.

    Di. Those factory paintings are often a real assembly line effort, typically in Asia. One person will paint in the trees, another the houses, a third the sky, a fourth the mountains, and finally the people and animal drawer. All I can say is that the end result is typically better than I could do myself.

    Doing something about their gullibility WILL however get rid of the the art.

    No, you’re wrong. I’ll give a simple example. I think I’m one of the few people in the world who found the Star Wars movies tedious, yet they are loved by many highly educated people. The line between kitsch and art is fuzzy, not sharp and distinct.

  18. Pornstar says:

    “The line between kitsch and art is fuzzy, not sharp and distinct.”

    Right you are. Where would you put Takashi Murakami? Or Keith Haring or Kenny Scharf, for that matter. Or Norman Rockwell.

  19. Expat says:

    I could go on.

    So basically life as it is Bluth. I think most people already know that.

    And I thought you had a single answer :)

  20. gunnison says:


    Even Natasha is seeing the humor in this thread.

    Even Natasha??
    What are you saying, that the further “left” someone is (to your eye) the less likely they are to have a sense of humor?

    I’ve asked you this before, without response. How come there are so few successful “conservative” comedians? I can’t think of any, unless you count that dickwad Dennis Miller, in the last forty years.

  21. Pornstar says:

    Gunny –

    Dennis Miller is a total dickwad, and not just on TV – i waited on the guy. And in the interest of fairness, so was Al Franken.

    But – this guy is successful, and kinda funny as i remember –

    This guy is pretty darn successful – even though it may not be your brand of humor.

  22. Expat says:

    Don’t know about humor but there is an authoritarian tendency in some corners of modern progressive liberalism.

  23. Bluthner says:


    I think most people already know that.

    Maybe they do. I do love the rumor. Trouble is that so very many of them behave as if they don’t.

  24. Expat says:

    Trouble is that so very many of them behave as if they don’t.

    How so?

    Mind you – I’ll admit that most folks do take a break now and then – and few just refuse to play the game.

  25. Bluthner says:


    How so?

    umm, just off the top of my head?

    Forcing wands up pregnant women’s vaginas for no medical reason,

    Trying to teach ‘intelligent design’ in schools,

    Denying civil rights to homosexuals,

    Trying to force their worship of the ‘Invisible Hand’ on everyone in all situations, without sense or logic,

    Trying to knock down the serpentine wall between church and state generally,

    Falling hook line and sinker for ludicrous notions that all Muslims are enemies,

    Falling hook line and sinker for ludicrous religions such as trickle down economics.

    Supporting the ‘War on Drugs’

    Believing that Saddam Hussein was behind 911

    Believing that Vietnam was a just war,

    I could go on. And on. And, alas, on.

  26. Expat says:

    So Bluthner – straw men, some things that most folk don’t have an opinion on, one or two that have no hope of legal survival or majority support, a couple that might actually have merit and a mysterious use of the word serpentine?

  27. gunnison says:


    Don’t know about humor but there is an authoritarian tendency in some corners of modern progressive liberalism.

    So you have been saying since forever. Are you going to continue to keep us in suspense, or are you willing to document some specific examples?
    You know, as an actual point of departure for a discussion.
    (Do note that I’m not contesting your assertion in any general sense, only wondering what, specifically, you personally find most disagreeable.)

  28. Tommydog says:

    What are you saying, that the further “left” someone is (to your eye) the less likely they are to have a sense of humor?

    I’ve asked you this before, without response. How come there are so few successful “conservative” comedians? I can’t think of any, unless you count that dickwad Dennis Miller, in the last forty years.

    Oh yes. The further left they are the more dour. Without question. However, you have in the past pointed out that you are more conservative than I am in some regards – a small c conservative in many ways – and your sense of humor makes me laugh often enough. Poor Bluthner though. He is just taking this particular discussion very, very seriously while the rest of us are very seriously trying to figure out the political affiliations of Road Runner and Coyote.

    Do you think Jeff Foxworthy is funny? He is certainly successful. He endorsed Romney last month.

  29. Tommydog says:

    Oh, Amy already mentioned Jeff Foxworthy. I’d skipped over that. sorry.

    How about P.J. O’Rourke? He can be pretty funny.

  30. gunnison says:

    Do you think Jeff Foxworthy is funny?

    I’ll give you Jeff, I had forgotten about him. Some of his schtick has made me laugh in the past. Much of it though is poking fun at rednecks — hardly a hotbed of liberalism. Hell, even Limbaugh made me laugh once, years ago, with a joke about a running-back who had problems getting over the goal line. I forget which RB it was.

    I think in general though my point is good. There are vastly more comedians left-of-center than anywhere else. This raises the question as to whether lefties are more jovial (which you don’t accept, but then you’re in California, so there’s that) or whether righties are just more preposterous and easier to make fun of.
    As I have also said before, humor requires a nimble intelligence and quick wits. So it seems empirically clear that quick wits and intelligence are more likely, on average, to produce a left-of-center perspective.



  31. Tommydog says:

    I dunno’ sport. It’s the conservatives having the most fun with this thread, though Kevin and Amy are playing along. Kelsey Grammer also endorsed Mitt. He’s sort of funny. Well, he’s a comedian anyway and is successful at it.

    I would nominate Berkeley as the most humourless community in all of the U.S. as a primary concern there is that laughing might cause one to exhale too much CO2 and contribute to global warming.

    And come on, this whole thread is about whether or not cheap trashy art portends dire consequences for the community in which it is produced. Hell, Hollywood’s been turning out mostly cheap trashy movies for about a century now.

  32. Bluthner says:


    Geez, Even Michelle Bachman would understand the serpentine reference. Thought you were boned up on American history and all. But now I remember you are as much a native there as I am here. So you get a pass on that one.

    As for your straw men, no…. don’t think you’re in the ballpark with that facile deflection. Didn’t intend to sound like any kind of sourpuss, but I do confess I was trying to make a serious point up thread. If it fell on deaf ears, fine. Not the first time.

  33. Pornstar says:

    I forgot about PJ O’Rourke. But he’s not that funny since he became a conservative. Lampoon was pure gold.

  34. Pornstar says:

    Then again Rick Perry is pretty fucking funny for a right winger.

  35. Elena says:

    Rick Perry is very funny. And Herman Cain was (is?) a performance artist. Irony so perfecty executed it went right above most people’s heads.

  36. Cochise says:

    I’ve been reading this post and the comments for 2 days and I still don’t get it.
    I put the cursor arrow next to the picture and a pop up reads:
    “kincade- 2010- bambis- first- year- 1st- art- disney- thomas”. So, OK it’s a fantasy, Disney poster put out by some tower of light group to hang in little kid’s rooms.
    From that we get right wing conspiracy, no culture, hanging in the living room, dumb as a box of rocks rubes, with no sense of humor and the ruination of the planet and so called “civilization” as we know it.

    We can’t stop killing each other for five minutes in a row yet we think critiquing art, (with education), and uncovering conspiracy theories will rescue our ” civilization”?

    Does it really seem as though more closed minded purist Eco-nazi’s is the real “solution” or is this an Easter thing and we’re all taking our turn on the cross?

    Here I am trying to CELEBRATE killing God’s Son like a good American Christian and ya’ll gotta get peckish over a Bambi picture and it;s “art” quality.

  37. Pornstar says:

    Cochise –

    We’re humorless liberals. Just accept it.

  38. Tommydog says:

    I’ll have to see if I can find you all an artistically crafted hair shirt. I’m thinking peccary hair but am open to suggestions. They could become heirlooms.

  39. gunnison says:


    It’s the conservatives having the most fun with this thread

    whoa, like, dude, that is so not even wrong.
    Bluthner did struggle valiantly to make a studious point, perhaps in the hope of engaging some honest inquiry from participants other than those already in the choir, but alas no hope of that.
    Even he though, as a person for whom art really matters, has maintained a robust congeniality.
    No, tommy, you can’t extrapolate that into a thesis about lefties being inherently dour. I’m having a ball.

    Oh, and Kelsey Grammar (whose code name in Beaver Creek is “fossil” — celebrities who buy overpriced condominiums on the ski-slopes are all given code-names for the work orders handed out to subcontractors and decorators etc., so they can have their privacy, I suppose. Of course everyone knows who’s who almost immediately) is not a comedian so much as an comedic actor. Not the same thing. It’s a skill, certainly, but a different one. Miguel and I built and installed some of his furniture.
    Never met him of course — it’s all handled by interior designers, since these clients are themselves aesthetically illiterate they employ people to explain to them what “good taste” is. Within the “ski-lodge aesthetic” itself of course, which is an aesthetic train-wreck anyway, the way they do it.
    And how do they “do it” I hear you ask?
    Simple. They sit down with the client and thumb through lush catalogs such as “Architectural Digest” and pick out the really expensive shit, preferably from Italy. Never mind that ski lodges originally looked the way they do because they were built with local materials and hand tools.
    I’m not making this up, btw, that really is how the game is played.

    And come on, this whole thread is about whether or not cheap trashy art portends dire consequences for the community in which it is produced.

    Some of the thread is, because it does, as any serious look at history (or at Beaver Creek) will confirm.

    I do notice you pivot nicely to a flawed analysis of this solitary thread rather than challenge the rudiments, the empirical large-sample rudiments now, of my impeccable thesis about quick wits and nimble intelligence producing a left-of-center perspective. How could you not, considering how scientifically unassailable it is.
    That’s one thing you (big C) Conservatives do well. Pivot. It’s the practice you get, I reckon. Next you’ll be saying that bad art doesn’t matter because Texas is generating more minimum-wage jobs than anywhere in the country.


  40. Tommydog says:

    Actually, I was being polite and ignoring the quick witted commented because let’s face it, I’m the one who’s been chuckling the most on this thread, but I do appreciate the smiles. I really don’t find Maher or Stewart to be all that funny (though I do grin at 30 Rock). I’m sure poor old Fossil appreciates that you gave him a nice ski pad.


  41. Tommydog says:

    Some of the thread is, because it does, as any serious look at history (or at Beaver Creek) will confirm.

    could I assume then, that you might think Japan’s descent began with Hello Kitty?

  42. Squirrel says:

    It’s a horrible, cynical scheme. This stuff is mass-manufactured trash sold by franchise, where the poor sods who are conned into the selling premise can’t make money. They have to buy upwards of $100,000’s ‘worth’ of overpriced and minimal profit-ratio junk. It’s pyramid selling.

    And it’s sold to customers with the line that it all has some ‘hidden meaning’ and ‘hidden purpose’ that they’re probably too thick to see unless they stare at this amateurish untalented crap for hours, or keep plastering it on every empty wall they can find until one day and thousands of dollars later inspiration and enlightenment strike.

    It’s no different to selling braided pieces of coloured string to wrap round your wrist while conning people it’ll cure cancer or arthritis or generally do their karma a bit of good because it cost them fifty quid.

    This stuff denigrates art. It’s made to look so that people can hang it on the wall and believe for a while, with some justification, “I could have done that”. But you look at real art, and you say “I wish I could have done that.”

    Like Damien Hirst’s shark. . .I used to hear “Well, anybody could have done that.” The right response, though, is “Ah, but you never thought of doing it until you saw he’d done it, did you?”

  43. gunnison says:

    …that you might think Japan’s descent began with Hello Kitty?

    Not sure when it began.
    What is their debt now — closing in on 250% of GDP?
    Something like that. And their energy issues are going to be, well who knows, given that they are abandoning nuclear as fast as they can now.
    As for what came first, the kitty or the litter, I couldn’t say.

  44. Pornstar says:

    Ah, Squirrel, nice to see that at least one other person stands up for Hirst. Well, i will stand up for his sculptures anyway, I found them very moving. The paintings are shit.

    I had a friend who took an art history course a few years after i graduated, and she was asking me the usual questions about talent and abstract art vs. classical painting, and i tried to explain to her, well, it’s a talent in thought, not just painting ability. Bless her heart, i got through and she got it.

  45. Expat says:

    Been flying X country so missed some bits.

    …..are you willing to document some specific examples?

    This time? The premise of this thread is hardly live and let live Gunny – although it has certainly provoked a lively discussion.

    In general? If you insist on people being good – as opposed to merely well mannered and livable with – you will eventually have to resort to coercion. Very Austrian I know.

  46. gunnison says:


    The premise of this thread is hardly live and let live Gunny

    I don’t see it that way at all. Nobody has been even remotely suggesting that anyone be prevented from painting Elvis on velvet. Neither is anyone insisting that people be “good”. I find it perfectly possible to discuss cultural phenomena that I find troubling without advocating banning them.

    In general?

    No, not in general. The question I asked was; are you willing to document some specific examples of your earlier general statement about liberal authoritarianism…
    What, specifically, are “liberals” advocating, actually campaigning for, that bothers you so? In the past we have agreed that campaigns to suppress certain things, sex education, say, are absurd, but such things are hardly liberal causes. I don’t recall if you think demanding creationism be included in School curricula as a “corrective” for evolutionary theory is sensible or not. I would assume not, but that’s not a liberal cause either.

    What regulations, specifically, does the left advocate for which you find disagreeable? Right now, here in the US, in today’s political climate?

  47. Tommydog says:

    g, I’ll start with this as one of my pet peeves.

    California Declares War on Suburbia

    I might even observe that I think the restrictions on smoking have gone a bit over the top, though as a non-smoker I might be expected to applaud them all.

    I chuckled at MT’s recent column on whether the government should combat overeating, and was compelled to put up my first DB comment to the effect that if you think the government isn’t becoming infuriated by that last 25% of the population that won’t quite smoking, wait’ll you see the coercive measures that are likely to be taken if everyone won’t lose weight when told to do so.

    The left are actually the ones that are being inconsistent here. If you favour greater government involvement in life, then presumably you should recognize that would mandate greater enforcement action.

  48. gunnison says:

    As for people bailing out of California, I defer to your greater first hand experiences. I never like the place anyway, so I can think of a lot of reasons to leave, but that’s me. You’ve never, that I remember, got much fight out of me about government ineptitude, or about its bloated inefficiencies, and I have no more love for “we recycle our wine bottles” liberalism than you do.

    As for smoking, and I used to smoke, I have no problem with current laws, although I’d consider exempting bars and saloons (not if they serve food though) — nobody goes there to improve their health.

    I saw your TDB comment, made me smile. I don’t think MT was arguing for a government mandated diet, I think he was observing that the results of cheap junk food, especially among the poor, has a knock-on effect on the wider economy (health care costs, for example) that is not helpful, and it’s hard to argue that’s not the case.
    He expressed the hope that the fast-food merchants would see the light and perhaps do something about it. With their advertizing budgets it would be a breeze to change eating habits without “forcing” anything on anyone. He was arguing for corporate responsibility to the wider culture and its economy.
    He was arguing for the inseperability of freedom and responsibility.

    And I don’t favor “more” government involvement in life simply as a matter of principle. I do favor the government protecting the weak from the strong though, when the strong turn predatory. It’s their fucking job.
    And the corporate world, along with entrenched power and privilege, have been increasingly predatory for the last forty years, and are now strip-mining economies all over the world to transfer wealth to themselves. By pushing ‘austerity’ on the rest of us.

    The main difference between you and I, as it seems to me, is that while I am perfectly willing to call out government “overreach” with every bit as much enthusiasm as I rant about corporate overreach, you only acknowledge the former and never the latter.

    If that strikes you as inconsistent, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I don’t think it’s me that’s inconsistent, I think it’s you.

  49. Bluthner says:

    Japan has been deeply immersed in kitsch longer than any of us has been alive. Me I’d say it’s no coincidence that a culture like that could be so easily led by the nose to crimes of genocide (in Manchuria?) and aggression all they while scraping to a ‘semi-divine’ emperor.

    Weird that Dog and Expat keep confounding deploring what a taste for po-faced kitsch indicates in a culture with the notion of prescribing it banning it policing it! Even when corrected three times and more! No one who was deploring it (mostly me) was ever even hinting at policing it in any way. The policing part just jumped up in you guys’s own minds. Hmmmmm…. interesting how you made that leap. Maybe you have a bit more authoritarian in you than you’d like to admit?

    Anyway I’m done on this one. And abroad for about a week, so don’t think I went away mad, I just went away. So I could come back again on the flip side.

    Have fun.

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