Thomas Kinkade’s Paradise Lost

Luke M. Reinsma

Luke M. Reinsma observes that Thomas Kinkade, the self-styled “Painter of Light” and a popular evangelical icon, may be defended against charges of mass marketing and sentimentalism. However, a comparison of his “Mountains Declare His Glory” to the incandescent landscapes of the nineteenth-century painter Albert Bierstadt, himself derided in his own age for pandering to the masses, suggests a crucial distinction. While Bierstadt begins to explore in paintings such as “Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak” the tension between dark and light, past and present, in Kinkade there is always this apocalyptic light that comes too easily—this sunlit paradise oblivious of the fall. Mr. Reinsma is Professor of English at Seattle Pacific University.

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Last Updated: January 1, 2005
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