Selected Works From a Private Collection: Thomas Kinkade / Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zurich

In 2008, German artist Christian Jankowski engaged professional teleshopping hosts for his parodistic shopping channel Kunstmarkt TV – Art Market TV for selling artworks by renowned artists like Jeff Koons. The performance was recorded by VernissageTV at our studio at Open Space / Art Cologne 2008 and broadcast live on our livestreaming platform. The footage was used for Jankowski’s video of the same name.

Someone who has started to use teleshopping channels already long ago is the American painter Thomas Kinkade (born in 1958, lives and works in Sacramento). Besides that, Kinkade uses other ultra-commercial marketing strategies as well. Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light”, is promoting and selling his products – prints, gifts, golf gear – via teleshopping channels, his website, online gallery and shop, a blog, a newsletter, membership in the Thomas Kinkade Collector’s Society, a YouTube channel, authorized galleries and retailers, etc. “Thomas Kinkade, The Painter of Light, creates glorious paintings from simple inspirations: family, tradition, community and a celebration of the beauty and goodness of God’s creation. These motivations have illuminated the body of work that is collected and cherished throughout the world.” (statement from the Thomas Kinkade Company website).

The exhibition “Selected Works From a Private Collection: Thomas Kinkade” at Freymond-Guth & Co. Fine Arts in Zurich / Switzerland, takes a closer look at the phenomenon Thomas Kinkade. The show presents printouts of Kinkade’s website, and a collection of Kinkade-products such as prints, and licensed partner products such as wallcoverings, books, and puzzles.

“On the basis of a choice of “žKinkade-products” the week-long exhibition Selected Works From A Private Collection: Thomas Kinkade aims to take a closer look at this phenomenon that is undermining any kind of etiquettes of “good art”. Especially in the course of the current economic crisis after the boom and its influence on the artworld – with a look on Kinkades practice of a maximised effort – or rather marketing-strategy of shallow contents – questions on our expectations and ideas about art and also about how ascriptions of value and art marketing work today, can be asked again. Another aspect in the business of Kinkade is his handling with master and copy: on the one hand Kinkade offers, a maximised democratisation of art by reproductions of artworks that are affordable as well easily available by mail. At the same time the works try to imitate masters by the addition of «real» brush strokes that are painted by assistants directly on some of the prints. The masters do not attain the market and move from one licensed Kinkade-gallery to the next. …
At the same time Kinkade is maintaining a mannered handling with likewise available «limited masters». These much more expensive works are furnished each with an applied hair of the artist as a ultimate gesture to demonstrate originality. Thus the exhibition of the “phenomenon Kinkade” – to emphasize at this point once more that the interest of the project is not prime in formal-aesthetic questions – is of great interest precisely in the commercial context of a gallery where the discussion how to bargain values of symbol- and current values ever is debated anew.” (Excerpt of an accompanying text by Valérie Knoll with assistance by Raphael Gygax).

Selected Works From a Private Collection: Thomas Kinkade, a concept by Raphael Gygax. Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zurich / Switzerland. Opening reception, July 2, 2009. The exhibition runs until July 11, 2009.

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