Thomas Kinkade, the acclaimed “Painter of Light” and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday in his California home. He was 54.
His family said Kinkade’s death appeared to be from natural causes.
“Thom provided such a wonderful life for his family,” his wife, Nanette, said in a statement earlier today. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”
His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States, with fans warming to the familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art.
Art critics often dismissed his work as tacky, but his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand are uncommonly in the art world.
“I’m a warrior for light,” Kinkade, famed for his style of painted highlights, told the San Jose Mercury-News in 2002, alluding not just to his skill, but his approach.
To Kinkade, light was used to symbolize the divine. “With whatever talent and resources I have, I try to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel.”
He clearly reached a lot of people. His Media Arts Group company is said to have taken in up to $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country.