Would it be speaking ill of the dead to say that Thomas Kinkade was a terrible artist who made important art? Since his death on Friday, at 54, we've all been barraged with his sickly-sweet images of days gone by, set in a United States that has never existed. But as I claim on today's Daily Beast, those Kinkadian fantasies give an accurate, realist take on a certain kind of American escapism that is very much with us today. This Daily Pic shows an unusual Kinkade that brings his vision fully up to date. Kinkade managed to frost even this modern scene, however noisy and smelly in acual life, with the same sugar coating that's on his gingerbread houses. I note especially how artfully Kinkade links past and present, fantasy and fact, by putting a "Music Man" straw boater on one of his 21st-century subjects, and a procession of vintage race cars down on the tarmac. They look more like toys than machines; you could argue that all Kinkade's art returns us to childhood.
For a full visual archive of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.