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19 July 2010

Art criticism: Mick Jagger and Thomas Kinkade

Mick Jagger, lead singer for the Rolling Stones, says that he has always listened to his critics. But he says the key is being able to distinguish between subjective preference and insightful, constructive criticism.

Here's an article on the blog Artists Who Thrive ("a community for entrepreneurial creatives") that a friend passed on to me: Balancing Confidence and Criticism.

The author mentions a boy who got taken to task by his teacher for choosing to do his art crticism homework project on Thomas Kinkade, a commercially popular painter whose work is either loved by Christians or reviled as overly sentimental kitsch.

Speaking of Kinkade, a post from a few days prior on that same blog knocked my socks off: The Painter of Light files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. I have to admit I shared a bit of the author's internal glee ("He had it comin'!"), which isn't very Christian of me (Prov 24:17). I guess he's not taking this very well, though. He was arrested and jailed in Monterey on Friday for driving while under the influence. And from a link in that LA Times article, here's a bit more about Kinkade's sordid dark side. It seems the saccharine sweet exterior was covering up something else. It's a good lesson to the wise.

So, is my dislike of Thomas Kinkade's work subjective preference, or insightful, constructive criticism? It is possible to write the latter about it. But I'm not going to take the time right now. People have such visceral reactions to his work that whatever I write probably wouldn't change their mind. Besides, he probably wouldn't listen to it.

2 comments:

Iambic Admonit said...

This is, of course, one way of framing the really big aesthetic questions. I am sure that a trained artist could make a quite convincing case against Kincade's work based on time-honored elements of artistic technique. Not being a painter, I don't know what they are, but I'm certain he's violating some very deep-rooted traditional ways of making good paintings -- just as I know when a so-called poet is violating rules of grammar, using cliches, employing worn-out rhymes, making uneven meters, etc.

But there's another side to it (of course). Is technique all that makes an artist worthwhile? How about acclaim? Sales? After all, 50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong, right? Well, it seems they were in Kincade's case. And I'm sad for him.

It's the old high/low quarrel. Very nasty. And very interesting for us artist theorists. And I'm not proposing any answers. Not here; I have elsewhere.

Iambic Admonit said...

This is, of course, one way of framing the really big aesthetic questions. I am sure that a trained artist could make a quite convincing case against Kincade's work based on time-honored elements of artistic technique. Not being a painter, I don't know what they are, but I'm certain he's violating some very deep-rooted traditional ways of making good paintings -- just as I know when a so-called poet is violating rules of grammar, using cliches, employing worn-out rhymes, making uneven meters, etc.

But there's another side to it (of course). Is technique all that makes an artist worthwhile? How about acclaim? Sales? After all, 50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong, right? Well, it seems they were in Kincade's case. And I'm sad for him.

It's the old high/low quarrel. Very nasty. And very interesting for us artist theorists. And I'm not proposing any answers. Not here; I have elsewhere.