Have a look at the Official Thomas Kinkade Website — emporium of soft kitsch, which I define by contrast with hardcore kitsch (see a post Kingdom of Kitch, Revisited in A Dialogue on Infinity; we try to explain there why dominant interpretations of concepts of eternity and infinity in mass produced popular imagery belong to hardcore kitsch. ).

My thanks go to David Pierce, who attracted my attention to work of Thomas Kinkade and also sent me the following quote from Annie Dillard’s Living by Fiction, which looks like a description of soft kitsch:

“Sentimental art attempts to force pre-existing emotions on us. Instead of creating characters and events which will elicit special feelings unique to its text, sentimental art merely gestures toward stock characters and events whose accompanying emotions come on tap. Bad poetry is almost always bad because it attempts to claim for itself the real power of whatever it describes in ten lines: a sky full of stars, first love, or Niagara Falls. An honest work generates its own power; a dishonest work tries to rob power from the cataracts of the given.”

However, a hormonal, biological nature of stimuli can be evident even in sample of soft kitsch.

Indeed Kinkade brings to mind Tom Lehrer‘s words about his time at Harvard: ” I was engaged in a serious experimental study: extension of adolescence beyond all previously known limits”.

Kinkade (self described as “Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light” — a trademarked phrase! But have a look at sis Official Site before reading further) is a prime example of infantilisation of American culture. Puberty-hormonal nature of his imagery would be, I believe, instantly recognised by Bertrand Russell, who wrote in his “Autobiography“:

“Concurrently with this physical preoccupation with sex, went a great intensity of idealistic feeling, which I did not at that time recognise as sexual in origin. I became intensely interested in the beauty of sunsets and clouds, and trees in spring and autumn, but my interest was of very sentimental kind, owing to the fact that it was an unconscious sublimation of sex, and an attempt to escape from reality.”

(The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, Unwin Paperbacks, London a. o., 1975; p. 35. ISBN 0 04 921022 X)