To Be The Envy Of Museum Directors: Owning A Big Deal Painting

It is epic in scale at 60 x 40 inches, fit for a vaulted space. It is historically important. It has amazing stories. It is beautifully executed. It fits snuggly in the trajectory of 20th Century art, taking Photorealism from Commercial Pop to Postmodern Identity and Contextuality. It would be at home in a major museum’s collection of contemporary art. Owning it will bring joy to everyone who has the pleasure to view it. It is priced at the same inflation-adjusted price point as if it were selling before the start of the remarkable career of an artist with a catalogue of astonishing work, all of which has been sold to private collections. It is so personally important to the artist, he waited 24 years, until downsizing his personal collection, to put it on the market.

My job is to write about fine art. Tobin Sprout is one of the artists I write about. The more I learn about this painting, the more mind-bogglingly interesting it becomes. If I had the extra cash right now, I’d buy it myself.

Here are some of the reasons I would buy this painting:

  • It’s undervalued. Tobin Sprout’s paintings were selling in regional galleries at comparable price points 20 years ago. He is just beginning to gain wider recognition as an extraordinary fine-art painter. Tobin Sprout was also a founding member of the band,Guided by Voices. Guided by Voices and Tobin Sprout’s solo music work continues to captivate new audiences, in addition to having a nearly fanatical following right now. These are culturally important artists who will only become more relevant in the future.
  • There are simply very few painters in art history and alive today capable of doing what Sprout can do in Photorealism. Even if we were to ‘not count’ the merit of Sprout’s ideas and vision, this is 2400 square inches of what will very likely be some of the most exquisite brushwork in your entire collection. 
  • The most celebrated photorealist painter in contemporary American art is Richard Estes. Estes paintings regularly sell for $500,000 and up right out of his studio today. Stylistically, Estes works with localized themes up close to build a hyper-real image at a distance. Tobin Sprout is one of the few heir apparents to Estes. 
  • Sprout’s large format hyperrealism (a.k.a. ‘Superchrome’) has extremely limited availability. There are approximately 50 of these canvases in existence, painted between the early 1990’s and the early 2000’s. Exactly three of these paintings remain available in the whole world. In the art world, scarcity itself is extremely valuable. The Joneses and the museum foundation have zero chance of keeping up with your ownership of a painting like this. They must live without. Sprout has no plans to paint moreSuperchrome paintings. 
  • This is one of the earliest of Sprout’s Superchromes, kept out of exhibitions and in his private collection for years. 
  • This is the very largest of Sprout’s Superchromes
  • This painting was painted in a house in Dayton, Ohio in 1993 at the exact same time as Bee Thousand, Amazon’s “Greatest Indie Rock Album Of All-Time,” was being recorded in the exact same house.
    Just wow.

There is even more to this painting, if you can believe it. And you won’t get all of it in this 1200 word essay I wrote about how Osterizer fits in the trajectory of 20th Century art history.