Whenever Darius Spieth needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of grad school, he’d lose himself in books — literally.
“I teach more than 1,000 students every fall semester at Louisiana State University; I like speaking about art and its history in front of large crowds,” says the LSU professor, who earned two art history degrees from the UI — a master’s in 1996 and a Ph.D. in 2001.
“But at the same time, having time for myself in a quiet environment has always been very important to me. For this reason, I think that the maze-like Main Stacks of the library, accessible to graduate students and faculty only, were my favorite place at UIUC.
“The library is still one of the most amazing such structure in world, despite its rough beauty and oddities, such as mismatching floors from one annex to the next. It’s a place that feels as if all the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips, but your life is not long enough to absorb it all.
“Much of my current scholarship evolves around art markets and their history. My time at UIUC was a critical moment for developing this expertise. While in the graduate program in art history, I took also classes in statistics and accounting, because I wanted to pursue an MBA degree in finance in parallel with my Ph.D., something still inconceivable in the 1990s.
“I finished my graduate courses work at UIUC, then took off to Japan for two years to earn the MBA at the International University of Japan, while doing research and writing my dissertation in Europe over the summers. Two years later, I returned to defend my dissertation.
“This year, I gave an invited talk before 400 people at the Louvre Museum in Paris on a chapter from my book ‘Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art’ and next year Oxford University Press will publish my ‘Grove Dictionary of Art Markets,’ which I am editing.
“In a sense, all of these activities go back to my time at UIUC.”