Christmas Evening by Thomas Kinkade.
Some people feel Kinkade's work is inspiring some insipid...but whether we like his work or not isn't important to the fact that his immense popularity is due to his audience wanting tangible images in hyper-aesthetic landscapes harkening a lightfilled pastoral Arcadia unlike America with it's homeless, drug users, motorcycles, crime, traffic, skyscrapers or disenfranchised or morphed defintion of families. There are no drive by shootings in Kinkades light of Jesus paintings. There is hope in the nature setting.
Balloon Flower by Jeff Koons.
I happen to like Jeff Koons a fair bit. I've been aquainted with both the man and his work since his early career. But my feelings about Koons body of work are also not relevant to them as examples of mass appeal art. When someone buys either Koons or Kinkade they not buying art that is made by either artist yet they are buying work that inspires peak experiences. In person Kinkades work is quite surprising...it is a print available to the public that has light sensitive acrylic "points" applied in a factory over top the base image. Often these "paintings" are displayed and sold with an accompanying light that makes the added acrylic features kind of "glow".
I understand the popularity of Kinkade, I only wish when a family put out a few hundred bucks for his work...they were taking home an actual painting. Right now that same family could go to eBay and buy very inspiring original art by searching for "outsider art" and finding all sorts of pieces for less than a hundred dollars! Or that family could go to a local art opening and buy art for about half the price of a Kinkade.
BUT...for decades artists and writers have been making work in general that doesn't have any belief or respect for the human figure...for the human in nature or the idea that art is transcendental and should be measured by it's quality to inspire a peak experience...so what we have seen for decades (actually especially since late Renaissance) progressively in literature and art is a move away from the transcendental...
Yes, the magic quality of standing next to a Jeff Koons giant "balloon" figure or the comfort and emotional reassurance in a peak experience of a Kinkade painting is what the mass American populace is actually craving.
McCarthy's Blood Meridian presents the human figure in a hyper-aesthetic colorful referenced world, where violence is associated with the body...where we feel transcendance in it's manner and style as we read. Blood Meridian was largely ignored because it was transcendant in a materialistically obsessed society. Since it's publication critics have deconstructed the novel as a political exploration of socialism, as a religious quest, or cautionary tale among many other disciplines for interpretation.
We had seen an absence of novels written in the context of the human figure in landscape for decades...and the genre is often shrugged off as "mans mans" writing...yet the mass appeal of Jon Krakauer's non-fiction Into Thin Air defies the smothering effects of religion and science to banish the transcendental with intellectual explainations for "peak experiences".
Religion insists on divinity and science insists on analytical logic: both of which is death to literature and art.
We have convinced ourselves that professors can explain literature and that critics can appraise it...in order for it to have meaning in our economy...
...when in actuality the value of literature and art lies in it's capacity to transcend intellect and offer the illogical and priceless LIFE AFFIRMING peak experience natural to all humans and imperative to survival.
When will more than a handful of artists and writers start to make transcendental work inspiring a peak experience again?