Gallerist Chloe Waddington on Embracing ‘Nerdiness’ in Art and Bringing Character to the White Cube
We asked the partner at Timothy Taylor Gallery about the things she values most—in art and in life.
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in terms of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level.
Chloe Waddington is set to be the toast of the New York art world this week—and not by happenstance.
For the past several years, Waddington, a partner at Timothy Taylor Gallery, has quietly shepherded the London gallery toward a New York expansion. Formerly homed in a small outpost in Chelsea, this week, Timothy Taylor opens the doors to the sprawling new 6,000-square foot Tribeca space, designed by studioMDA.
The new space is the fruition of one of Waddington’s many ambitions for the gallery and one that underscores the swift crescendo of her tenure. She joined the gallery in 2019 as the New York director, following positions at Christie’s and David Kordansky. From the get-go, she set her sights for the gallery higher. In only a year’s time, Taylor had named her partner—his first partner in the gallery’s two-decade-plus history—a striking indication of what she brings to the table.
“I was lucky that Tim empowered me, pretty much from day one, to expand the gallery’s presence in the States and take some risks,” explained Waddington. “The most rewarding part has been the ability to grow the program with a new generation of artists, including Hilary Pecis, Honor Titus, Hayal Pozanti, and Jiab Prachakul—all of whom connect to the gallery’s DNA of great painters, like Alex Katz and Eddie Martinez, but are completely fresh, and who have received amazing support from collectors, curators, and critics through the gallery’s exhibitions and efforts.”
The big-picture thinking seems to be paying off, as well. The inaugural exhibition—lusciously colorful paintings by Turkish artist Hayal Pozanti—has already sold out. Waddington can’t hide her enthusiasm for the artist.
“Hayal is a phenomenal painter and an inspiring person,” she said. “She was born in Turkey, where her mother was one of the country’s first female computer programmers, and came to the States to receive her MFA at Yale. Her earlier work was influenced by the linguistics of computer science and digital technology, but in recent years she has merged that focus with an interest in landscape and the natural world, resulting in these lush canvases made with oil stick, which straddle the line between abstraction and figuration.”
Waddington brings these high beams of passion to everything she does. When she’s outside the gallery, she can be found lunching at La Mercerie, catching up with friends by phone, and, on rare occasions, winding down with a deep-tissue massage. Recently, we caught up with Waddington about what she values in art and life—and why.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
I was very pleased to acquire a gorgeous small painting by German artist Maren Karlson from Soft Opening at Felix Art Fair in L.A. this year. Her paintings are so beautiful yet disquieting.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
I’m usually saving up for my next art acquisition!
What would you buy if you found $100?
I would probably take a friend to lunch at La Mercerie, just around the corner from the new gallery.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
A deep-tissue massage. There is nothing more revitalizing than an hour of uninterrupted bliss!
What do you think is your greatest asset?
A sense of almost fearlessness in approaching the unknown—or, as my colleagues put it, my tenacity!
What do you most value in a work of art?
This might sound strange, but nerdiness—a real passion and devotion to the materials, the process, the successes, and failures.
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Blair Whiteford, whom I recently visited at his studio in Brooklyn. He’s a classically trained painter with a remarkable ability to collapse time and space in his work. Blair mixes his own paints and takes inspiration from the Italian Renaissance, 19th-century Romanticism, and contemporary pop culture, creating otherworldly compositions that suggest universal themes of transformation and human desire. I wish I’d seen his recent exhibition at the Pond Society in Shanghai in person—the reviews were great.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Dorothea Rockburne—she’s a name most of us in the art world know, but she has yet to receive the mainstream or commercial recognition that she deserves. A student of Black Mountain College alongside Albers and Rauschenberg, she developed an entirely unique visual language based on the translation of mathematical equations into their painterly or sculptural equivalents—and the works are gorgeous.
What, in your estimation, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
Joe’s Stone Crab (sorry!)
What is your most treasured possession?
A delicate ivory intaglio ring passed down from my grandmother.
What’s been your best investment?
My partnership in the gallery with Tim.
What is something small that means the world to you?
A phone call!
What’s not worth the hype?
The “white cube.” I find that buildings and galleries with a little bit of historical character bring a human element to the space and help collectors envision how they might actually live with the art.
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Grassroots organizing—anything that opens the minds of neighbors to differing perspectives and new ideas.
What do you aspire to?
To be a great wife, mother, friend, and champion of artists.
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