The Surprising Yellow Line That Links Artists Andres "Piss Christ" Serrano and Thomas "Painter of Light" Kinkade. And Billy Carter.

Blogger, snarkster, and author extraordinaire Alan Vanneman reads Jed Perl in The New Republic so those of us with day jobs and intimations of mortality don't have to. [Warning: Mixed metaphor ahead!] Like a miner panning for gold, Vanneman turns up this pony after stumbling around the manure for a couple of days:

According to New Republic doubledome Jed Perl, in the midst of a tediously extended article mostly intended to let us know how smart he is, and how much he hates “Painter of Light” dude Thomas Kinkeade, Jed lets slip the fact that Tom was once busted for, yes pissing on poor Winnie, though it appears that Tom is now safely born-again and, I guess, no longer prone to stumbling around the Magic Kingdom with his fly open. Good news indeed!

Thanks, Alan.

Here's the passage in question from Perl, which is in a review that pooh-poohs what Perls disdains as "the love affair between the intellectuals and the trashmeisters":

One of the choicest sections in Vallance’s essay is devoted to Kinkade’s much discussed guerilla act at Disneyland, where he urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh. Vallance believes that the Los Angeles Times was unfair to Kinkade in a 2006 expose, where if I understand Vallance correctly he feels Kinkade was treated as a garden variety psycho. For Vallance—writing in a section called “The Urination Ritual”—“Pooh-pissing [is] the next step in the grand legacy of piss art”—a kind of “performance art.” Vallance links Kinkade’s “work” with Marcel Duchamp’s decision to exhibit a urinal as a sculpture, with Jackson Pollock urinating in Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace, as well as with work by Warhol and contemporary artists Paul McCarthy, Mike Bidlo, and David Hammons. It is left to another contributor, Micki McElya, to bring Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ into the discussion, explaining that “aesthetically, Kinkade shares with Serrano a reliance on the manipulation of light effects and the use of light as symbolic of God’s presence and the individual’s potential for salvation.”

Whole Perl here.

Writing in 2000, amid a different sort of pissing match which was mostly directed at Kinkade's marketing ploys, the great Charles Paul Freund put the appeal of the self-styled "Artist of Light" in a different perspective:

From the sheet-wrapped Bohemiens of post-revolutionary Paris to the strategically furnished art studios of fin de siècle modernists to the boho-dancing abstract expressionists of mid-century, the art world of the past 200 years has relied rather heavily on poses. But [art mag] Flak’s suggestion that Kinkade is a threat to art is as overwrought as [his marketing corporation] MAGI’s claim that it has invented a new art paradigm. Kinkade is neither a paradigm nor a "process come to fruition"; he’s a niche.

Kinkade is about subculture, specifically the sizable but relatively underserved Christian subculture. Indeed, a reported 80 percent of Kinkade’s customers have never before owned an artifact they considered to be art. The Kinkade phenomenon thus joins with such genres as slickly produced religious pop music, specialized cable programming, and popular religious fiction in addressing this subculture’s needs. Whether this audience in fact owns art after putting down its money for The Mountains Declare His Glory may well be a subject of heated debate for Flak’s audience. But it’s a moot point for Kinkade’s.

Whole story here.

Billy Carter, RIP.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I thought the line linking them was obvious and completely unsurprising; they all suck.

  • Almanian||

    As for pissing on Pooh - you cant' spell "Kinkade" without "kink", so there is that.

    Otherwise, my reaction was, "Wait..wha? Huh? WTF? I don't get it...." Thanks, Nick, for putting one so far out on the fringe that I had to think about it. And still don't get it.

    It's good exercise for the neurons.

  • Mainer||

    Isn't Kink-ade a kind of drink ? Something served at certain types of parties ? Or perhaps something you need if you're not kinky enough.

  • Almanian||

    I'm not sure. Perhaps it's all of those things.

    i just know art when I see it, and Thomas Kinkade is not "art". It's drawwwwrrrrrings....

  • The Ghost of Billy Carter||

    From the looks of it, Andres Serrano should drink a *lot* more beer.

  • ||

    Whatever happened to buying art because it looked good on a wall. Is that a cardinal sin of art buying now?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Philistine!

  • ||

    if it looks good on the wall and doesn't have to be explained, someone from the uncool list might like it. And we can't have that. Art is no longer beauty. It is a way for people to distinguish themselves from the Philistines.

  • Michael||

    So all art purchases can be explained as either being motivated by aesthetic preference or desire for social status? Thanks for illustrating that for me with such stark simplicity!

  • T||

    And if you're male, you probably only care about aesthetics or social status to get laid.

  • ||

    When people comment favorably on a framed 'print' that I have on a wall, I tell them that it's simply a full-page illo cut out of a glossy mag.

    After their befuddlement, I say that if I like it and it's on a wall, it's aht.

  • Warty||

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    I find it impossible to look at a Kinkade without thinking, you can't build a cabin that close to the creek, it's going to flood.

  • ||

    yeah, and when the water recedes, you just sweep the silt out.

  • Richard||

    I know practically nothing about art, and Kincaid looks like the kind of stuff I'd send as a Christmas card rather than hang on my wall. But the fact that a lot of people enjoy his work unironically pisses off the kind of people I hate, so I'm on his side.

  • ||

    I agree. In the end, there is no accounting for taste. If art connects with people and makes them happy, I can't see how you can call it totally bad.

  • ||

    Seriously. People act as if others taste infringes upon their rights. Avert your eyes goddamnit if my picture of a meadow offends your sensibilities.

  • Objectivist||

    If you don't share our taste in art, you are an evil collectivist.

  • Straw Man||

    Nice.

  • ||

    Liking Kinkade is like thinking Jay Leno is funny. I'm not sure how anyone can enjoy them, but I love watching hipsters blood vessels pop that someone enjoys something that they don't.

  • Ice Nine||

    Re Kinkade so I'm on his side.

    Me too - he's done a superb job of getting those big-eyed black velvet portraits off peoples' walls.

  • Elvis||

    Don't be cruel

  • Phyllis Stein||

    Indeed, a reported 80 percent of Kinkade’s customers have never before owned an artifact they considered to be art.

    Be that as it may, a reported 80 percent of Kinkade’s customers believe they know what they like.

  • Spartacus||

    ”—“Pooh-pissing [is] the next step in the grand legacy of piss art”—a kind of “performance art.”

    So I guess that time I got reaaly wasted and urinated in the parking lot outside the bar, it was really art. Where's my NEA grant?

  • ||

    held up by congress...but pending

  • ||

    My friends and I used to decorate parking lots with blood, piss, and puke. It never occured to us that it could be ART.

  • AlmightyJB||

    No sir occifer, I'm not drunk, I'm a performance artist.

  • ||

    Ah, the what-ifs accumulate!

  • Mainer||

    Look occifer, I'm not as think as you drunk i am.....

  • ||

    Do people think and talk like this? I mean the individual words in the article and the linked stuff all made sense when considered separately. But together, they turn into some sort of santorum laced goo of sheer incomprehensibility. I mean, I could feel my brain shutting down non-essential functions to protect itself as I tried to piece it together into something approaching coherent.

    From the sheet-wrapped Bohemiens of post-revolutionary Paris to the strategically furnished art studios of fin de siècle modernists to the boho-dancing abstract expressionists of mid-century - does that parse as a real sentence conveying any sort of information to other people? I guess I'm weird.
    -K

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I call it the revenge of the humanities majors.

  • ||

    Doesn't Nick have a PhD in Bullshiterature? He gets off on this kind of stuff.

  • ||

    Libertarianism fits my artistic and cultural worldview exactly.

    That's why I'm a libbertard.

  • Post-Coital Rat||

    Much like the scripting language of the same name, Perl's work is write-only.

  • GroundTruth||

    If Kinkade's stuff were food, I'd need an insulin shot to keep from going into hyperglycemic shock.

    I'm glad it's there for other folks who like it, but one or two christmas card of it is plenty for me!

  • Mainer||

    A urinal as sculpture strikes me as the Ray J. Johnson of art. A one note joke that can't sustain any interest for a second viewing.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    But it's so deep dude. It's like he's trying to say something with his art.

  • ||

    Actually, he inverted it and labeled it 'Fountain', which is actually amusing.

  • Mainer||

    mildly amusing, I suppose. Still, how many times can you look at it once you "get" the joke.

  • ||

    At the time (early 20th century) it would've been fuckin' hilarious.

    In my '80s art school, it was amusing.

  • ||

    does that parse as a real sentence conveying any sort of information to other people?

    If it did, his editor would have to call him in for a sit-down.

  • ||

    Any time anybody asks me who my favorite artist is, I reply, "R Mutt."

  • Joshua||

    Was that really a mixed metaphor, or just a simile paired up with a metaphor?

  • ||

    I always wondered if the planned Thomas Kinkade village -- an actual village or town --came into being.

    It did! (although it's disappointingly subdued...)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/m.....685193091/

  • GregorySmith3||

    My problem with Serrano isn't what he did but that he got FINANCED by the National Endowment for the Arts. Do art on your own dime or don't do it at all!

  • ||

    Yep. At the time, the artworld was very insular compared with the rest of the lumpenproletariat.

    The art chiefs now are a bit wiser and have a bit more savvy with the public's dime.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Looks like the cover art for The Hobbit

  • ||

    At least Kinkade didn't poo on Manneken Pis.

  • ||

    "Whether this audience in fact owns art after putting down its money for The Mountains Declare His Glory may well be a subject of heated debate for Flak’s audience. But it’s a moot point for Kinkade’s."

    moot = open to discussion or debate

    Rewritten: "Whether this audience in fact owns art after putting down its money for The Mountains Declare His Glory may well be a subject of heated debate for Flak’s audience. But it’s a subject for discussion and debate for Kinkade’s."

    Not quite the same thing the author was getting at, I think.

    These days, people misuse "moot" in the sense of "insignificant, irrelevant, merely hypothetical." And some people actually (mis-)use the word "mute."

    I must confess that I don't know why Gillespie thinks "the great Charles Paul Freund" was truly "great," but it couldn't have been the latter's masterful command of a college-level vocabulary. Or maybe "The Jacket" is merely being ironic.

  • Thomas Kinkeade||

    For Vallance—writing in a section called “The Urination Ritual”—“Pooh-pissing [is] the next step in the grand legacy of piss art”—a kind of “performance art.” Vallance links Kinkade’s “work” with Marcel Duchamp’s decision to exhibit a urinal as a sculpture, with Jackson Pollock urinating in Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace, as well as with work by Warhol and contemporary artists Paul McCarthy, Mike Bidlo, and David Hammons.

    I just had to go and there was a line at the bathroom, man.

  • ||

  • AlmightyJB||

    I hope all of this is out of their system now.

  • scarpe Nike Store||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement