And I have mixed feelings about that.
The artist Thomas Kinkade passed away April 6, 2012. A huge commercial success, Kinkade's art is ubiquitous, particularly in Christian circles. It has been estimated that one out of every twenty homes has a Kinkade hanging on the wall.
But with that success came much criticism--artistic, theological, and psychotheological.
Chapter 10 of my book The Authenticity of Faith is entitled "The Thomas Kinkade Effect." As I describe it in the book, the Thomas Kinkade Effect is the impulse in Christian aesthetics to avoid the ugliness, brokenness and darkness of human existence. As Kinkade observed about his aesthetic vision, "I like to portray a world without the Fall."
But a world without the Fall isn't the world we live in. Consequently, many have chaffed at a lack of honesty in Kinkade's work. The beauty in Kinkade's idyllic paintings seems shallow and superficial. Pretty, but not honest.
My interest in Kinkade has been psychotheological. What does the appeal of Kinkade's work to Christians reveal about us, psychologically and theologically?
Chapter 10 of The Authenticity of Faith and posts on this blog have explored that question. And in those explorations the theological impulse behind Kinkade's art has taken a bit of a beating from me.
And yet, ever since his death, my mind has often thought of Thomas Kinkade. And while I stand by my analysis and naming of the Thomas Kinkade Effect I also wanted to publicly say this:
Thomas Kinkade, you brought beauty into the world. For that I am grateful.
May you Rest in Peace dear brother.