I've just finished re-watching Crumb, a doco that I own about cultural cartoonist, Robert Crumb. He visits his younger brother Maxon in San Francisco and discusses their time growing up and look at some of his paintings. The painting below that he's holding produced an intense flash-back to Madrid, where I saw Caravaggio's St Catherine of Alexandria at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery.
Both paintings feature intensely elegant, yet fragile-looking women, juxtaposed with aggressive, metallic forms. St Catherine is turning her head away from the impaling prongs, while brazenly stroking the blade of the rapier. I distinctly remember being captured by that stare and the angle of her head. Crumb's painting has a female encased in a metallic bra, which he mentions, "...talks about her personality...".
Both their expressions have an impish, puckish air about them. Just thought the comparison was kind of interesting.
Thomas Kinkade, the self-proclaimed Monet of the millennium has been 'Endorized'. There's also another one of a large octopus devouring a Kinkade lighthouse somewhere out there on the net that I saw a while back.
I find the politics of Kinkade's work interesting, especially in regards to the christian-right acceptance of his art. Since the 60's, the airbrushed landscape poster-reproduced paintings of this genre have dominated christian publishing, book covers and ephemera. It's amazing how quickly a pastiche is created through total acceptance. It's a far cry from the visceral Catholic imagery of the Quattrocento. Jeffrey Vallance, commented on Kinkade's paintings: "...This is another area that the contemporary art world has a hard time with, that I find interesting. He expresses what he believes and puts that in his art. That is not the trend in the high-art world at the moment, the idea that you can express things spiritually and be taken seriously… It is always difficult to present serious religious ideas in an art context. That is why I like Kinkade. It is a difficult thing to do...")
I think Vallance's quote talks more about art hierachies and politics rather than presenting religious ideas through art and I find his work is nestled closer to the christian art of the past: the use of narrative and imagery to instill comprehension through trepidation. If Vallance's was born during the Trecento, I would imagine him to be a predella painter - subtly subverting and questioning tenets through his use of extant symbols, all displayed in small format at the base of a formidable polyptych.

below: Kinkade/ Star Wars mash-up
under that: Jeffrey Vallance, The Devil Hates Art, 2001
(courtesy Lehmann Maupin, NYC)

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