Thomas Kinkade, Candlelight Cottage, 1996. Courtesy of Thomas Kinkade Studios.

Imagine a realm far, far away from the constant barrage of bad news, where glowing cottages nestle in abundant thickets of flowers or on rocky outcrops by the sea. This is a land immune to tsunamis and earthquakes; isolated from the political rhetoric that splits nations and families in two.
If that sounds idyllic to you, artist Thomas Kinkade

certainly thought so when he began painting his now-famed, sugary-sweet landscapes in the 1980s. “[My paintings] beckon you into this world that provides an alternative to your nightly news broadcast,” he told the New York Times in 2001. “People are reminded that it’s not all ugliness in the world.”

Indeed, Kinkade’s light-drenched, paradisiacal scenes depict a respite from harsh realities—and have charmed millions of Americans. Kinkade’s company has claimed that one in every 20 homes in the U.S. contains a Kinkade painting, print, or tchotchke stamped with his work and name. If the numbers are true, they make him—to the dismay of countless fine art critics who’ve derided his work as twee, schlocky, or downright kitsch—the most-collected artist in America. Read more