Leslie Waddington, Pioneering Art Dealer, Remembered

Leslie Waddington, 1934-2015
Leslie Waddington, 1934-2015
(Waddington Custot Galleries)

A fixture on the international art scene for more than five decades and an esteemed promoter of 20th-century modernist masters, London art dealer Leslie Waddington, 81, passed away on Nov. 30 surrounded by his family. He was born in 1934 in Dublin.

Leslie Waddington was Chairman of Waddington Custot Galleries since 1966 (formerly Waddington Galleries). He was educated at Portora Royal School and received his Diplôme from the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, France. Waddington was Chairman of the Modern Painting section of TEFAF, the Maastricht art fair, from 1994 to 2004 and Chairman of the Picture Section from 1996 to 2000.

In 2013, Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate Gallery, paid tribute to Waddington when he was presented with the FEAGA Award Basel for lifetime achievement as a gallerist. Serota noted that "his peers and competitors in the art trade, as well as curators and critics, honour him for his energy and imagination, for his loyalty to artists rather than fashion and for his commitment to transparent, fair and ethical practice. I have never ever heard anyone complaining about a poor or sharp deal from Leslie Waddington."

Stephane Custot became his business partner at the gallery in 2010. Said Custot, “Leslie was known for his knowledge, fiery character and integrity. 

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 Picasso, Matisse, Baselitz, Morandi, Flanagan, Arp to Laurens, Leger, Miró, Tápies and 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.”

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