The Original Collectors Series: Gregory Lacks, Pop Art, Cincinnati, OH

“I’ve always been a collector, ever since the early age of 19, when Warhol was one of the first major pieces I bought. If I sell something, I’m notorious for buying something else right after. I just bought another Warhol a couple of weeks ago! When you’re dealing art for as long as I have been, the artwork tends to find you.

One of my favorite pieces in this sale is the hand-signed black and white still photograph that was used as a lobby card for Warhol’s underground film, “Bad.” There are a lot of collectibles and ephemera that relate back to Pop Art, including some pieces by Rosenthal, the high-end porcelain maker. The leaders of Pop Art like Warhol and Lichtenstein came up with a way of creating artwork that was a reflective of a pop culture environment. A good example is Marilyn Monroe. After her tragic, unexpected death, Warhol immortalized her in these beautiful, vibrant portraits that looked so fantastic. You never had a bad Warhol portrait if you were a socialite–the lips are always red, wrinkles are brushed away, everyone is always beautiful. Warhol, when he was ill, ate the same thing every day for lunch: a cheese sandwich and a bowl of Campbell’s soup. The soup can became a classic Warhol image. He had the ability to immortalize Marilyn Monroe, and a soup can.

There’s beauty, comfort, excitement and fun in living with art, and I wish more people did it. You can get really nice works of art and not spend a lot of money, and the benefit is the improvement in one’s life. We need that, especially during this time.”

The Original Collectors Series: Gregory Lacks, Pop Art, Cincinnati, OH
The Original Collectors Series: Gregory Lacks, Pop Art, Cincinnati, OH
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The Original Collectors Series: Gregory Lacks, Pop Art, Cincinnati, OH

As an art dealer, what is your advice for a new collector? Where’s a good place to start?

You’re going to be the person living with it, so buy what you like. I tend to buy what I like as well as what will hold a value. These artists that have withstood the test of time–[for example,] Warhol, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Rosenquist, Lichtenstein–have a long history of value inherent in their artwork and that allows you to have the confidence that spending the money really is worth it.

What about for the beginner art collector on a budget? Don’t high-value works of art also have high price tags?

Start with a limited edition. An extreme example is this: At the same time Warhol was doing the Marilyn Monroe canvases, he also did paper prints. They were the same size, the same paint and same screens, the only thing different was the support medium. While a canvas can be worth tens of millions, the print is worth tens of thousands. Examples in this sale include the “Black and White Flowers” which is stunning, and the autographed work. These are smaller pieces that give you a lot of bang for your buck.

If Warhol was fascinated with pop culture icons of the time, who would he paint today?

Of course he would have painted Donald Trump! Oh my gosh, he would have loved that. He would have painted Barack Obama as the first African American president, and Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee. He wouldn’t be in tune to the negative political discourse, but he would have been very aware of major figures that played a significant role in pop culture.

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