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Christie's to offer the Leslie Waddington Collection on 4 October 2016
Leslie Waddington, Photo: Miriam Reik.

LONDON.- The Collection of Leslie Waddington will be offered for sale as a single-owner auction at Christie’s, London during Frieze week October 2016. A celebration of some of the artists he most admired, the sale will feature works from his personal collection including 20th-century icons Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Milton Avery, Agnes Martin, Francis Picabia, and Jean Dubuffet, as well as works by many of the contemporary artists he represented, and with whom he developed enduring friendships. Assembled over several decades, Waddington’s personal collection is testament to his pioneering spirit as an art dealer who presented a groundbreaking exhibition programme and fostered creative relationships with artists: he brought a range of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary names to the attention of international audiences and defined the London art landscape long before the rise in popularity of the contemporary art world today.

Featuring work by 23 artists, the auction will be a highlight of Christie’s programme during Frieze week, taking place on Tuesday 4 October, and available for preview at Christie’s King Street (24 September - 4 October) with highlights at New York Rockefeller Center (mid-September). A Part II day auction will take place in November to coincide with Christie’s Modern British & Irish Art auctions.

“Leslie’s spiritual and intellectual roots lie in the literature rather than the art of Ireland, especially in the writings of James Joyce and in the modernist tradition as it developed in Paris between the wars.” Sir Nicholas Serota

Leslie Waddington
From his arrival in London in 1957, Leslie Waddington rose to become one of the most influential fine art dealers in modern times. Witty, erudite, and inimitably principled, Waddington spent over half a century promoting the groundbreaking work of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary artists. From St Ives school painters to American Abstract Expressionists, from Picasso and Matisse to Pop Art, he strove to exhibit art that, in his view, spoke “against parochialism and limitation.” This vision left an indelible mark on the history of British collecting and patronage and is embodied in his private collection. Born in Dublin in 1934, Leslie Waddington was the son of gallery owner Victor Waddington and his wife, Zelda. An avid reader and bibliophile, Waddington first studied at the Portora Royal School, an institution whose alumni included Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. In the early 1950s, Waddington chose to attend university in Paris, where he studied the history of art and archaeology at the Sorbonne and the École du Louvre. In the late 1950s Victor Waddington returned to London, where he opened a gallery on Cork Street. Accompanying him was the 24-year-old Leslie, who would soon become a director at his father’s business. In 1966 he opened his own space, Waddington Galleries, alongside business partner Lord Alexander Bernstein. Waddington Galleries swiftly grew and by the late 1980s, Cork Street was home to five Waddington spaces.

Waddington was instrumental in building the unique collections of the colourful Tory treasurer Lord Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014) and the collector, patron and radio engineer E.J. Power (1899-1993) among many others. Lord McAlpine was helped by Waddington to form a major modern sculpture collection that he later gifted to the Tate in 1971. Upon this occasion, Lord McAlpine remarked: “The form a collection takes is largely due to the dealers and artists a collector meets.” Similarly Power was a firm friend and would often have Sunday lunch in the company of Leslie and Clodagh Waddington. Leslie Waddington served as chairman of the Modern Painting and Pictures sections of The European Fine Art Fair. In 2003, he was one of the first dealers to participate in London’s influential Frieze Art Fair. In 2013, Nicholas Serota presented Leslie Waddington with the Federation of European Art Galleries Award in Basel, lauding Waddington as an individual “without equal in the profession”.

The Auction
A centrepiece of the collection is Jean Dubuffet’s Visiteur au chapeau bleu avril 1955, 1955 (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) one of the raw, highly textured canvases that Dubuffet produced during the first few months of his six-year sojourn in the south of France and presents a vision of bucolic joie de vivre.

Other highlights include Francis Picabia’s Lampe, 1923 (estimate: £800,000-1,500,000). Formerly in the collection of Jacques Doucet, it is one of a series of paintings made between 1921 and 1923 in which the ancient ideal of classical beauty is combined with geometric abstraction and is housed within its original Pierre Legrain frame; and Agnes Martin’s Praise, 1985 (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) an example of Martin’s serene visual vocabulary, which she employed to evoke pure, meditative states of mind. Another focal point of the collection is Alexander Calder’s Le serpent rouge (The Red Snake), 1958 (estimate: £2,000,000- 3,000,000), spanning two metres in width the mobile presents a hypnotic cascade of red, blue and black biomorphic forms, elegantly emerging from the wall with twisting serpentine movement. The work stems from a critical period in Calder’s career, during which a number of prestigious large-scale commissions propelled him to international acclaim.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President, Christie’s: ''It is a privilege to be offering works from the private collection of Leslie Waddington here at Christie’s in October. The art dealer who pioneered contemporary art in London, long before the proliferation of galleries and art institutions in the city, Leslie introduced the art world to artists from Jean Dubuffet to Patrick Caulfield, bringing the British and European aesthetic to America for the first time, and American Abstract Expressionism to London. Leslie was generous with his advice to the younger generation and many people in the London art world, including myself, benefited from his wisdom over the years."

Katharine Arnold, Head of Sale, Director, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s: ''Leslie Waddington was one of the earliest supporters of Frieze Art Fair. As such, it is particularly fitting that his Collection sale will be launched on 4 October during Frieze Week. The works to be offered are of the highest calibre. Jean Dubuffet's Visiteur au chapeau bleu (1955) is one of the finest large-scale evocations of the artist’s time in the south of France. Francis Picabia's Lampe (1923), previously owned by Jacques Doucet, onetime owner of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, has a beautifully refined line and is housed within its original frame by Pierre Legrain. Scanning the pages of Vogue magazine from November 1986, reveals Leslie and Clodagh Waddington’s London home as it was shortly after their wedding. The pages show many of these art works installed in the same positions they occupied for nearly 30 years.”

Christie’s, the leading auction house for Post-War and Contemporary art, brings together a line-up of worldclass auctions to coincide with Frieze Week. The Leslie Waddington Collection will sit alongside the PostWar and Contemporary Evening and Day Auctions, and the Italian Sale as highlights of one of the most important weeks in the art-world calendar.

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