Thomas Kinkade's Painterly Acts of Arson

What Women Really Think
Feb. 2 2010 9:31 AM

Thomas Kinkade's Painterly Acts of Arson

If you read only one deep-think review of a Thomas Kinkade biopic this morning, make it this one . A.S. Hamrah stares deep into Kinkade’s empire and descries the core of our own destruction: shady economics (the painter has awkward relationships with investors), real estate (care to check out a Kinkade-inspired housing development?), and, well, fire. Lots of fire:

He says that as the son of a single mother who worked late, he often came home to a house that was dark and cold, especially in winter. The "Kinkade glow" represents what he wished was there instead. He tells the story more than once, which raises a question or two: Didn’t he maybe just want to burn the place down? Is his art really a form of arson?
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Hamrah maintains that trying to invest in " these reproductions, gobbed with points of light" is a lot like trying to get rich flipping overpriced McMansions. There's another relationship between Kinkade and economic implosion. I once watched the painter, who was wearing a black beret at the time (because he is an artist), explain at great length how desperately God wants you to be rich. It was my first encounter with the prosperity gospel. Hanna can tell you how that's worked out .

Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.

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