It’s the weekend so hopefully you’ll grant me the freedom to blog about something other than the usual fare of this site.
I was on the Vanity Fair page reading an article about the history leading up to the latest iteration of a financial crisis (I have at least a couple posts on deck about how this article relates to higher education curricula and goals) and I saw an article about a recently released-to-DVD Thomas Kinkade movie.
The author of the article described Kinkade as “a postmodern Norman Rockwell for the evangelist set,” however, I think this assessment is way off the mark.Â Rather, Kinkade is the Damien Hirst of the under-developed aesthetic sensibility and Christian worldview set.Â Hirst is the (in)famous person who creates works such as a shark suspended in formaldehyde and a diamond encrusted human skull for the nouveau riche hedge fund set that lack aesthetic sensibility but have (or had) hubris and cash in spades.Â Hirst shares with Kinkade an underdeveloped sense of beauty, however, instead of a cotton-candy romanticism, Hirst infuses his work with nihilism.
In my view both Kinkade and Hirst are equally insidious.Â While most can readily identify Hirst’s worldview as clearly deficient, Kinkade’s is as well.Â Kinkade’s products are far from “Christian” even though this is how many percieve him and them.Â However, within the Christian worldview joy and suffering go hand in hand–there is a clear and undeniable recognition of the messiness, destruction, and evil within the world alongside love, grace, and truth.Â If one’s work does not reflect both of these realities one’s aesthetic can not properly be called “Christian.”
A more proper analogue for Kinkade is Andy Warhol.Â Warhol was the man who rechristened his “studio” as “The Factory.”Â He was blissly aware of the fact that he transformed art from a one-off human reflection upon true beauty into a mass produced product that fed the baser wants of a wider market.Â Kinkade has modified this business model for the mass-market luxury goods segment (similar to Starbucks and BMW) by selling his wares in shopping malls while Hirst has taken Warhol’s approach decidedly more upmarket to the high street galleries of London.
Kinkade and Hirst share many things but perhaps the two most glaring are their deficient worldviews and consumeristic focus.Â With respect to the former commonality neither of their products are beautiful, and for the second, they certainly are not artists but entrepeneurs.