Over the last few years of his life, as his mall-art empire sank into bankruptcy, Kinkade’s persona as a born-again believer in faith and family values gave way to a public picture of him as a hard-drinking, breast-grabbing wise guy who stiffed his business partners and pissed (almost literally) on his rivals. He started to look more like Jackson Pollock than Mr. Rogers. If anyone knew that American success was built on unbucolic truths, Kinkade did. His pictures know it, too.
Our art critic Blake Gopnik wrote about how his opinion of kitchster painter Thomas Kinkade has softened since his death, and also the disconnect between Kinkade’s real life and the life he portrayed.