Many of the people who are not heavily involved in the art world may be somewhat uncertain how to separate commercial art and fine art. Indeed, plenty of the people who are actually in the art world are going to run into the same problems, because there’s a degree of subjectivity in this enterprise. In some cases, the answer is very straightforward. No one is going to question that art from Vincent van Gogh is fine art, since he is considered one of the most important artists in history. With the more recent artists, the situation can become significantly trickier.
However, while art is subjective, there are still limits to subjectivity. There’s a reason why certain works of art become popular and why certain works of art become obscure. There are also reasons why people will end up preferring certain works of art over others. The fact that art is subjective but not too subjective only makes the situation more complicated than it would have been otherwise.
Thomas Kinkade is not regarded as being a fine artist. His works have sold like hotcakes, and many people consider themselves fans of his. However, the people in the fine arts world have a tendency to look down on the works of Thomas Kinkade. The fact that his work has been mass-marketed is going to alienate the people who pride themselves on supporting the work of artist who put a lot of effort into each individual paintbrush stroke.
Some of the subject matter of his paintings, with their idealized rural landscapes, is going to be off-putting for the people who love art that is more edgy and shocking. While a lot of modern art is stereotyped as consisting entirely of simplistic abstraction, people still certain paint landscapes today. However, these are landscapes that will involve a person’s own unique style. Many people think that painters like Thomas Kinkade cheapen their work by distributing it in this manner.
People can argue for years about what constitutes fine art and what doesn’t. However, there is a clear separation between the ways in which certain people approach art and the ways in which other people approach art. Many people will choose Thomas Kinkade paintings because they are purely decorative. Plenty of them will look pretty in someone’s living room, and they’re usually purchased on that basis alone.
People in the fine arts world will familiarize themselves with all sorts of different techniques and tools in order to truly understand art, and they will try to achieve a sort of academic mastery of the subject. The people who approach art from this angle are going to select different art pieces than the people who view art in a decorative context, simply because their knowledge base and the qualities that they look for in art are different. The difference between fine art and commercial art is very much a social construction, and a great deal of that social construction is a product of the behaviors of two separate groups as opposed to a quality inherent to the art itself.