Art News Saturday April 7, 2012

Thomas Kinkade, Graceland, 50th Anniversary, 2007

 Thomas Kinkade, beloved and controversial American artist, died suddenly on Friday in his home in Los Gatos, California.  He was 54.  The “Painter of Light” was one of the most popular artists of our time, with replications of his artwork hanging in an estimated one out of every 20 homes in America.  A devout Christian, Kinkade preferred to depict life as he knew people wished it to be – idyllic, peaceful, an Eden of countryside Americana perfection.  This penchant for an idealized world lacking any self-expression lauded him much criticism among art critics who considered his work tacky and clichéd.  Kinkade, also a successful speaker and New York Times Bestselling author, created an empire with Thomas Kinkade galleries dotted all over the globe, a collaboration with Disney, and mass marketed artwork.  The cause of death was not immediately certain, but Kinkade’s family said the artist died of natural causes.  Further details were expected early next week.  In a 2007 interview with 60 Minutes, Kinkade said, “Art is forever.  It goes front and center on your wall, where everyday the rest of your life you see that image.  And it is shaping your children, it’s shaping your life.”

The Google Art Project is taking over.  The most recent addition to the Internet giant’s attempt to bring art to the masses has been the inclusion of 139 works of art from the White House.  Having started in February 2011, the project now includes 151 museums in 40 countries.  With the Google Art Project, a casual art lover sitting at home can discover artworks by period, artist, or type of artwork, displaying paintings from different museums around the world.  There are now 46 pieces available with the “gigapixel” photo-capturing technology, which allows the viewer to study works of art in higher resolution than what can be seen by the naked eye.  In addition, an enhanced My Gallery feature allows the viewer select from any of the 30,000 artworks to build a customized gallery.  Only thing missing?  The Louvre in Paris along with it’s most famous resident, the Mona Lisa.

In other art news, The Louvre has confirmed the radical redating of the Mona Lisa.  Until now, Leonardo’s famous portrait has been dated to around 1503-6, but this is being formally altered to about 1503-19. This significant redating is presented in the catalogue of the Louvre’s exhibition “Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece” in conjunction with the completion of the restoration of another famous Leonardo work, Virgin and Child with St Anne. The change is a result of the Louvre’s recent scientific work on Leonardo.  An examination of Virgin and Child with St Anne and the Prado’s copy of the Mona Lisa suggest that they too share the same new dating, and could have been worked on shortly before the artist’s death in France in 1519.  The original Mona Lisa remains in its permanently crowded room in the main galleries of the Louvre, where a new label with revised dating will be added shortly.

A little-known painting of an elderly man, entitled Old Rabbi, has been officially authenticated as a Rembrandt original.  The piece has been hidden away in Woburn Abbey for centuries, always thought of as possibly a Rembrandt but never officially credited to the artist – until now.  The Abbey’s curator Chris Gravett became increasingly intrigued by the image due to its exceptional quality and persuaded Ernst van de Wetering, one of the world’s leading experts on the 17th century Dutch master to examine it.  Now on display in the vaults, the painting sits next to a reproduction of a painting of Rembrandt’s wife Saskia. It is thought the pair of portraits might be linked and could represent the biblical story of the exiled Ruth who married the kindly but much older Boaz.


Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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