Fair  August 2, 2022  Colleen Smith

Gallery 1261 Unveils New Daniel Sprick Painting at Denver Art Showcase

Gallery 1261

Daniel Sprick, Sanderson Gulch, oil paint, 2022.

Daniel Sprick, an acclaimed master of realism, is arguably the most widely respected artist working in Denver today. Sprick’s representational oil paintings are so impressive that when the Denver Art Museum (DAM) opened its Hamilton Building in 2006, the museum devoted a gallery to Sprick and his artistic process. The DAM left the homage to Sprick still-life installation up for 10 years and gave Sprick a show of portraits, too. In Denver, Gallery 1261 represents the prominent painter and is unveiling a new Sprick landscape, Sanderson Gulch, in the Denver Art Showcase.

“Daniel is one of the top realists in the country. Magical luminosity is part of his painting, and he has reached the sublime,” said Cynthia Madden Leitner, co-founder and CEO of the Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA).

MOA is in the process of moving from Englewood to Greenwood Village, a suburb developed in part by her father, John W. Madden, Jr., a prominent art collector. The Maddens discerned Sprick’s talent early on and invested in his paintings. John Madden collected half a dozen Sprick works. MOA purchased “Yellow Cloth and the Sea,” a 60 inches by 72 inches oil-on-board painting in 2004. MOA gave Sprick a solo show in 2016, and Madden Leitner was executive producer for a documentary film about the artist the same year. MOA is partnering with Art & Object on the online Denver Art Showcase where Sprick’s Denver representative, Gallery 1261, will exhibit a selection of Sprick’s sought-after paintings, related still-life works, along with the newly unveiled landscape.

Sprick has given much of his life to painting. With mastery of vision, eye-hand coordination and sheer devotion, Sprick paints at a level unimaginable to most artists. He takes his time.

Gallery 1261

Daniel Sprick, Through My Fingers, oil on panel, 2020.

“In the last 10 to 20 years, I’ve slowed myself down. There is such a thing as being too prolific,” Sprick said in an interview with Art & Object. “My work is really, really labor intensive, so it’s part of my plan to do small paintings as good as I can possibly make them, no matter how much labor goes into it. The world has plenty of quantity. We don’t need any more quantity, we need quality,” said Sprick.

The quality results from Sprick’s self-imposed standard of excellence: “I maintain higher ideals than ever,” the artist said. “In spite of what’s going on in the world and my opinions about contemporary art, I think genuine, authentic, heartfelt beauty is still possible in the world. And the world absolutely needs beauty more than ever.”    

Sprick spoke of the radical shifts in the art market. “It’s changing under our feet, and I’m not sure what to make of it,” he said. “I do the best art I’m capable of so I can be at peace with myself. I’m no pioneer of new aesthetics. I’m discovering what’s possible within representation, and I’m not satisfied. There’s room for growth. That’s why I keep painting. There are undiscovered continents that may or may not exist, but I’m sailing out for them.”

Gallery 1261

Daniel Sprick, Dreaming Venus, Oil on Board, 2022.

Sprick invites other painters aboard on his artistic voyage. He leads painting workshops. He regularly hosts a group of painters in his studio.

He said, “We have maybe 20 artists with a model in the center, and we are painting or drawing. We do what we can get done in three to three-and-a-half hours. We are industrious. We work hard. We maintain silence. I demand everybody turn off their cell phone ringer.”

The group includes Sprick’s studio neighbor, Quang Ho, and his wife, Adrienne Stein, both celebrated artists living half-time in Denver, both represented by Gallery 1261, both showing paintings in the Denver Art Showcase. 

Another regular is Clyde Steadman, an impressive impasto painter whose style couldn’t be much more different from Sprick’s. Steadman’s Denver representative, Abend Gallery, will exhibit the painter’s series of female figures in the Art & Object Denver Art Showcase. Prior to the figure-painting group, Steadman painted with Sprick in his Denver studio and studied still-life with him intensively, one-on-one for six months. 

“He has achieved a kind of fame. I call myself a Daniel Sprick fan boy shamelessly, and that happens to him repeatedly, said Steadman. “If he’s in a room of people familiar with representational painting, people shut up like in the old EF Hutton ads. People stop conversations and listen to what Dan says."

Gallery 1261

Daniel Sprick, Shadow'd Wild, Oil on Board, 2021.

What Steadman says, simply put, is that Sprick is extraordinary. 

“He’s not a monk, but he’s almost a monk. He’s incredibly focused,” Steadman said of Sprick. “One of the things I like to see in artists — and I definitely see in his work — is he shows you his inner life in his paintings. I could tell you things about him, but that would not tell as much as his paintings.”

Steadman told of Sprick’s generosity, his marathon attention span. And he commented on the slightly eerie, dream-space look of Sprick’s paintings, a reality not altered, but painstakingly observed.

“Dan pays attention far beyond what most people would be able to. Things are revealed when you are willing to go past the point of normal attention and refine the painting,” said Steadman, who studied philosophy and mathematics before veering toward art. 

“I’m not in his league, but Dan’s painting is more and more focused, more and more clear, so it takes on an otherworldly quality because it records all that attention he’s put into it. You look at his painting and see that he has paid attention to every crease on a person’s face — not to exaggerate or underplay it because that would not be paying attention.”  

Steadman emphasized that Sprick is not a photorealist — a label Sprick shuns. 

“Dan’s paintings, finally, are painterly. Dan’s paintings retain a kind of virtuosic fluency in just the manipulation of paint. Something trails off, and it’s happening everywhere in the painting if you look carefully enough,” said Steadman. 

“He’s been doing this so long that he’s developed a skill in handling the paint that is foreign to the photorealistic school. The term ‘photorealism’ is appropriate for some, but not for Dan. Dan’s very much a painter.”

About the Author

Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith is a longtime Denver arts writer and the curator of Art & Object’s Denver Art Showcase.

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