British Art World Mourns the Death of Legendary Dealer Leslie Waddington

Waddington opened his gallery in 1966, becoming a key dealer in the London scene.

Leslie Waddington.Photo: Courtesy Waddington Custot Galleries.
Leslie Waddington.
Photo: Courtesy Waddington Custot Galleries.
Leslie Waddington.<br>Photo: Courtesy Waddington Custom Galleries.

Leslie Waddington.
Photo: Courtesy Waddington Custot Galleries.

Leslie Waddington, the renowned British art dealer and co-founder of the Waddington Custot Galleries, died yesterday morning surrounded by his family. He was 81 years old.

Born in 1934 in Dublin, Waddington began his career as a dealer in 1966, when he opened his own gallery in London’s Cork Street, then the city’s most important gallery hub. He had previously worked with his father Victor Waddington, partner and co-owner of Waddington Galleries, until his death in the 1990s.

In 2011, Waddington Galleries became Waddington Custot Galleries, after 50 percent of the company’s shares were sold to the London-based French art dealer Stephane Custot.

A recent image of Leslie Waddington (left) and gallery partner Stéphane Custot.<br>Photo: via Happening.

A recent image of Leslie Waddington (left) and gallery partner Stephane Custot.
Photo: via Happening.

In a statement sent to the press yesterday, Custot announced the passing of his partner and lauded the maverick dealer’s important role in shaping both the UK and international art scenes:

Leslie was a true pioneer. He introduced the work of the Colour Field and Post War American artists to London and solidified the reputation of British painters such as Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Terry Frost, and Patrick Heron.

A legendary figure in the art world, Leslie exhibited and dealt work by many of the greatest artists of the 20th century, from Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georg Baselitz, Giorgio Morandi, Barry Flanagan, Jean Arp to Henri Laurens, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, and Jean Dubuffet.

I feel extremely privileged to have known Leslie for 25 years and to have worked alongside him as his partner in the gallery for the past five. He was a constant source of inspiration and we shall all greatly miss him.

Leslie Waddington receiving the 2013 FEAGA prize at Art Basel.<br>Photo: via European Galleries.

Leslie Waddington receiving the 2013 FEAGA prize at Art Basel.
Photo: via European Galleries.

In 2013, Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, in a ceremony held during Art Basel, presented Waddington with the Federation of European Art Galleries Association lifetime achievement award “for his efforts in creating and directing an exemplary gallery of high international standing.”

In addition to his gallery endevors, Waddington was chairman of the Modern Painting section at Maastricht Art Fair from 1994-2004, and chairman of the Picture Section from 1996-2000.

The roster of artists who have been exhibited at Waddington Custot Galleries reads like a who’s who of 20th century art history, including Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Axel Hütte, Robert Indiana, Jannis Kounellis, Agnes Martin, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.

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