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Episode 36

The Alton Browncast

Robert Sparks – Martin…

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The Alton Browncast #36: Robert Sparks – Martin Lawrence Galleries, USA

Rock stars, tattoos, the history of modern art and the impact of those oh so famous soup cans – that’s where the conversation goes when Robert Sparks, Senior Consultant for the Martin Lawrence Galleries, USA joins Alton for this week’s podcast. Sparks also gives an inside look at the world of fine art and advises on how to get rid of those posters from college and put some treasure on your walls.

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4 comments

  • This interview reminded me of the 19th century art dealer Joseph Duveen. Duveen, with the help of Bernard Berenson a “scholar” of old master paintings and italian ‘masters’, created a demand for painting attributed to the old masters which he sold to the new rich in America, (“Europe has a great deal of art, and America has a great deal of money.”) at exorbitant prices, creating an artificial demand for works of art. Berenson certified all the works Duveen sold, for a fee. He and Duveen became instantly very, very rich.

    Mr. Sparks is a clever salesman. He’s not unique. He sees Art as a commodity, like Duveen, who in the 19th century, “played an important role in selling to self-made industrialists on the notion that buying art was also buying upper-class status.”

    The interesting irony is that Mr. Sparks collects and sells Andy Warhol, whose fame, or notoriety, was of creating art as a way of ‘thumbing his nose” at collectors and the art establishment. He famously hung a bundle of cash on his wall and declared it a masterpiece. Of course, as an iconoclast, Warhol has become part of the history of Art, and therefore a part of a movement during his time which cannot be ignored as part of the progression of the history of Art.

    A great deal of original ( yes, originality does count a great deal) that is being done by artists who may never become ‘blue chip” stock, (some might, with the help of fellows like Sparks.) The idea that you should spend lots and lots of cash on art objects for speculation, I think, is the worst injury perpetrated to Art, and artists.

    The value of Art is intrinsic, and should be valued for its significance as a work of human creativity, and for its effect on the individual collector, like a piece of music that touches the senses and lifts life above the mundane. ( Can you imagine if we had to pay millions to listen to the work of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart etc..?)

    Anyone, I think, can own original art. It doesn’t have to be worth thousands and thousands. It just has to touch you in some way. Of course, if you have money to burn, why not just give it to Sparks, right?