Robert Clark

American Art Collector - - Artist Focus - /RobertClarkArtist

As a child, Robert Clark was in­fat­u­ated with horses. He would go on to a ca­reer paint­ing many of the best race­horses in the world. For­mer Jockey Club pres­i­dent Dinny Phipps once said that Clark was the only artist in North Amer­ica he would have paint his horses. He went on to also part­ner with rac­ing his­to­rian and au­thor Ed­ward Bowen on the book A Brush with Great­ness: The Art of Rac­ing from 2000 to Triple Crown that pro­files 79 Grade 1 winners.

In the book, which doc­u­ments 15 years of horse rac­ing his­tory, Clark’s art­work col­or­fully brings to life Bowen’s words. The book is also a chron­i­cle of the artist’s port­fo­lio, which includes every Ken­tucky Derby win­ner since Fu­saichi Pe­ga­sus in 2000 up to Amer­i­can Pharoah’s Triple Crown. Own­ers, train­ers and breed­ers have con­trib­uted their com­ments about the horses com­mis­sioned over the years.

In 1982, Clark was right out of school and trav­eled to Ken­tucky for the first time. He vis­ited Clai­borne Farm where farm man­ager John Sosby orig­i­nally told him they didn’t show the horses to artists, but Sosby did take the time to look through the young artist’s port­fo­lio. He put the port­fo­lio down and asked if Clark knew who Richard Stone Reeves was. Clark replied, “Yes, sir, he’s the best equine artist alive to­day.” Sosby looked Clark in the eye and said, “Your art­work is al­ready better.”

Sosby called in a few men and told them to show him the stal­lions. Over the next hour, the artist had a pri­vate view­ing and photo ses­sion with the likes Sec­re­tar­iat, Mr. Prospec­tor, Spec­tac­u­lar Bid, Danzig and many oth­ers. Be­fore leav­ing, Sosby di­rected the artist to go to Spendthrift Farm where he saw the other two leav­ing Triple Crown winners Seat­tle Slew and Af­firmed.

Clark will host a workshop at his gallery in Ge­orge­town, Ken­tucky, from May 28 to June 2.

Top: Day Care II, oil on Bel­gium linen, 44 x 66"

Mid­dle: Gun Run­ner, oil on Bel­gium linen, 22 x 28"

Left: Shang­hai Bobby, oil on Bel­gium linen, 24 x 30"

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