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 1 of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of tacky “art.” His prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand — famed for their painted high lights — not commonly seen in the art world. As the LA Times reports:
Kinkade labeled himself the nation’s most collected living artist. His paintings and spin-off products bring in about $100 million a year in sales, and are said to be in 10 million homes in the United States.
He grew up in a trailer in the Northern California city of Placerville, which he often rendered in his art as an idyllic community of friendly citizens. After hitting upon the formula for inspirational landscapes and village scenes, he and his wife put their modest savings into publishing the first reproductions of his paintings in 1984. They sold 1,000 copies for $35 each and never looked back.
Joan Didion said of his paintings,
A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.
That’s all over now, Praise Jeebus. He can now stop ruining the living rooms of Midwestern grandparents. RIP, etc/