Before he earned the nickname “Painter of Light” for his Christian-inspired artwork, Thomas Kinkade was the painter of… toilet paper. And now prints of an early, previously unseen work by the late born-again Christian artist will be sold to help raise money for galleries impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
The Kinkade Family Foundation is partnering with New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) to release prints of the never-before-seen Untitled (Toilet Paper) to help support art galleries nationally, reports artnet News. From now until the end of the year, 100 percent of the proceeds from the reproductions will go to those most affected by the pandemic, with applications and guidelines to receive funding set to be released in the coming weeks.
Kinkade, who died in 2012 at the age of 54, achieved fame and fortune on the back of a seemingly never-ending stream of Christian-tinged bucolic landscapes and saccharine scenes of family life. The paintings attracted buyers but repulsed critics. Unlike the work he was best known for, Untitled (Toilet Paper) simply depicts a roll of toilet paper against a muted brown backdrop. At a time when toilet paper has never been in more demand, the artist’s family felt the painting was the appropriate way to represent such an unprecedented moment.
“Locked away from public view for decades and stored in Thomas Kinkade’s hidden vault, this painting represents one of the most symbolic items of the COVID-19 crisis: the toilet paper roll,” the foundation said in a statement.
While Kinkade had a fraught relationship with the art world, the partnership was born out of a common goal. Both the Kinkade Family Foundation and NADA have lobbied government officials to come to the aid of galleries and artists who’ve lost their livelihood, or had it severely curtailed, by the coronavirus.
“We are grateful for NADA’s generosity towards the emerging galleries and artists who are the heartbeat of the art world and who are facing economic challenges during this unprecedented period,” the foundation said. “This is what our father would have wanted, and through this, we hope to shed a positive light during this time of uncertainty.”
Untiltled (Toilet Paper) will be available in three formats, according to the Kinkade Family Foundation. There’s a limited-edition printed on stretched canvas that’s been hand-highlighted by Kinkade’s daughter (which sells for $750), an open edition print ($150) and an open edition puzzle ($45). Each can be purchased through the foundation’s website now.