After eight years of research, LSU College of Art and Design professor Darius Spieth prepares to take the art world by storm.
Spieth recently published his second book, "Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art" which he hopes to see in libraries worldwide.
Spieth's book spans many topics, but he thinks of it as primarily about economic history, art history, sociological changes, urban topography and city growth. Spieth was the first to examine art prices at auctions and compare pre- and post-revolution painting prices using paper to coin money conversion.
“I worked in the municipal archives in Paris, where you have the minutes of the actual auctions,” Spieth said. “The handwriting from someone who lived 250 years ago is very difficult to decipher and on top of that the catalogs are not always in order.”
It took Spieth around a year just to complete the graphics for the art market catalogs, of which he reviewed thousands.
“You constantly record that and match it, it’s crazy work. It’s not being presented to you on a silver platter,” Spieth said, “You really need to cut through a lot of things that obscure and sometimes it's impossible to decide. Dealing with what you can know and what you can’t know ... It's a fascinating subject.”
Spieth, who was born and raised in Germany, first became aware of the art world when he accompanied his mother to art auctions as a child. He later transitioned to glass collection before he began his "Golden Age" picture analysis.
While his book hasn’t reached a large market so far — he estimates that there are only around 100 copies circulating, costing about $130 each — he hopes that it will become important in discussions about the art market.
Spieth doesn’t plan to take a break either. His edits in "The Grove Dictionary of Art" will be published later this year. When asked what motivated him, Spieth responded without hesitation.
“The discovery,” Spieth said, “It's a lot of work trying to find it but you all of a sudden see connections no one else has seen.”