Thomas Kinkade, one of America’s most popular artists, dies suddenly at 54

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light" and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos, Calif., home. He was 54.His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes."Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "we are shocked and saddened by his death."His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand — famed for their painted highlights — not commonly seen in the art world.

"I’m a warrior for light," Kinkade told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "with whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."His Media Arts Group company surged to success, taking in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, before it went private in the middle of the past decade. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.The Placerville, Calif., native, who also leaves behind a brother and sister, was known to dress up like Santa Claus on Christmas, ride a Harley-Davidson and go on painting trips around the world. He would visit studio executives but also got to know all the homeless people in Los Gatos. He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.The father of four girls and a devoted Christian, his artistic philosophy was not to express himself through his paintings like many artists, but rather to give the masses what they wanted: warm, positive images, said Ken Raasch, a longtime friend who co-founded Kinkade’s company with him."I’d see a tree as being green, and he would see it as 47 different shades of green," Raasch said. "He just saw the world in a much more detailed way than anyone I’ve ever seen."In the 25 years since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, his official biography says he has printed 1,000 paintings of "cabin and nature scenes, beautiful gardens, classic cottages, sports, inspirational content, lighthouses and powerful seascapes, impressionists, and classic Americana." Continued…

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Thomas Kinkade, one of America’s most popular artists, dies suddenly at 54


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