An artistic conversation with Glenn Fuller, Director of Gladwell & Patterson Gallery, London
One thing that thrills me in Fall season, apart from the exquisite new menswear collection hits the high end boutiques, it is one of the most prominent auction and exhibition in town - the Sotheby’s Fall Winter Auction exhibition, but what thrills me even more, is another art and antique fair which located almost a stone-throw distance away from the auction, Fine Art Asia. While all art and antique connoisseurs and enthusiasts are busy keeping their eyes to hunt for their beloved collector piece(s) from dozens of dealers and booths from around the world, my intention for this year in particular, however, is more focus on an art lecture which intrigues me weeks ago when I received the invitation, the lecture is called ‘Impressionism and Collecting in the 21st Century’, conducted by a sophisticated English gallerist, Mr. Glenn Fuller, who is the Director of Gladwell & Patterson, a reputed fine art gallery in London with more than century’s history.
Having been working alongside with his father in this family-run fine art business for over 20 years, Glenn has played as a pivotal role of moving this historic art business forward to the 21st century. Flashback to the root of Gladwell & Patterson, originally founded in England in 1752, as an art gallery specializing in the commission of fine prints from the leading artists of the day, later, the ownership was passed through two Lord Mayors of London, and subsequently, granted the firm Royal Warrants. One thing that fascinates me, is the profound bond of Mr. Harry Gladwell and the legendary master painter, Vincent Van Gogh, when both gentlemen meet in Paris in late 19th century, which they exchanged their culture, intellectual insights and art-of-living and eventually become firm friends, the story of this sincere acquaintanceship was later appeared in Van Gogh’s letters to his brother. Fast forward to 20th century which the gallery entwined with the Fuller family, running the art business by three generations of the Fuller’s, and couple of the relocations (especially after the traumatic WWII that the gallery windows were smashed, paintings spread over the pavement and the unfortunate loss of the archive letters from van Gogh to Harry Gladwell), the reputed Gladwell & Patterson gallery made the neighborhood of Knightsbridge as their new home since 2013, situated on 5 Beauchamp Place, with the prestigious and welcoming exterior, the gallery opens their door to countless sophisticated and elite clients from around the world, to experience the beauty of fine art and history in an impeccable and cozy way, at times it feels like going home, and, a ‘hotel particulier’ that filled with history and art collecting legacy.
Initially, my interest is purely about the topic of the lecture as it reminds of Monet’s paintings that I have seen in Musee d’Orangerie in Paris about 2 years ago, and I simply like to reignite the feeling that I had during that visit, however, as the lecture starts and I started to discover the intriguing and mesmerizing perspective from this knowledged English gentleman, especially when the topic starts to take a turn to the way to select Impressionism art and the joy of collecting art (and objet d’Art), the idea of Glenn has truly moved me when he talked about the essence of collecting is about passion, which to me is almost the same as the passion and persistence that being an artist should be, also, the profound knowledge of this dapper gallerist about other forgotten Impressionism artists which I have never heard of before, makes this lecture much more interesting and value-added than expected. With this valuable opportunity, I am happy to have a little Q&A with this gentleman, to share with you all about the passion of art collecting, the uniqueness of Impressionism, as well as something about gentleman’s style and art-of-living (well, it is a kind of recap of what I have learnt from the art lecture).
My Modern Darcy: Hi Glenn, such a delight to have you with us this time for this conversation, so, first thing first, how do you like the exhibition this time in Hong Kong?
Glenn Fuller: Hello 'My Modern Darcy', and thanks for taking the time to chat to me and to come to my lecture. We very much enjoyed the exhibition this year and the organisers had worked hard at increasing the number of exhibitors and making it more enjoyable for the visitors. We met some of our wonderful old clients and friends and made some exciting new ones as well. Our paintings were generally very well received.
MMD: In your opinion, how is the difference about the art scene (fine art in particular) from Asia to England?
GF: There is the obvious difference of taste and style, but generally we find that the people who are interested in fine art have the same warm and open personalities. All around the world there are some incredibly talented artists and craftsmen making beautiful things.
MMD: OK let’s go back to your fine art gallery a bit, joining a family business, can you share with us how did it come about? And what makes you to decide to become a fine art gallerist?
GF: I joined my father in the business 25 years ago, and I was never pushed into it, it just sort of happened naturally. I left university and then went to help Dad out. I never left because I enjoy it so very much. When you grow up around it, I think it gets into your blood and it is in your genes already as well.
MMD: As I remember that you mentioned about going with your father to one fine art auction after another, and study through all the auction catalogues, can you share with us some of your most memorable, bitter-sweet moments and experience?
GF: There have been some wonderful moments finding hidden and beautiful things at auctions. I remember going through this one box of old prints when I was only a young teenager and finding an oil painting by one of Dad’s favourite artitsts. We managed to purchase the box for only a few pounds and Dad had one of his keen collectors who we then sold the ‘find’ to.
MMD: Going back to the art lecture that you moderated back in early Oct about Impressionism art, in your opinion, among so many different art genre out there, what makes Impressionism still noteworthy? And how does it relevant with the art and artist in present days?
GF: The Impressionists were so groundbreaking, and their work was so very beautiful, that it still stirs the soul now as it did then. The paintings brighten up any room and talk to many people’s souls. In buying or owning a piece of Impressionist art you have the chance of being a custodian of a beautiful piece of history and enjoying it along the way. The aesthetic beauty of these works is an inspiration and a lesson to today’s artists.
MMD: One thing that makes me so memorable about, is your point of view about the mindset of collecting art (and other objet d’Art etc.), can you share with us more what is the most crucial factor(s) for art collecting? And in your opinion, as a fine art collector or connoisseur, what are the criteria when picking a piece of fine art?
GF: Art Collecting is a passion and it is important to find a collecting passion that appeals to you. Then you get incredible enjoyment from the search for knowledge and items during your lifetime of collecting. The criteria that you should bear in mind are quality, condition, provenance, rarity, and design. Most important of these is quality – try and collect the very best of what you can.
MMD: Which art piece (or artist’s work) is your favorite? If there’s one you need to pick from your own gallery, which one is your pick and why?
GF: I do love Monet’s work, however there are some paintings by the post impressionists such as Loiseau, Martin, and Picabia which are simply stunning. My current favourite in the gallery is 'Loiseau’s Allee des Peupliers'
MMD: In your opinion, how art collecting and appreciation related to a gentleman’s lifestyle?
GF: Collecting shows a certain class and discernment and is important if you want to have a rounded and full lifestyle. It also allows you to meet like-minded people who share your passions and enjoyment and life is all about sharing great moments with friends.
MMD: Can you share about your personal style, what is your favorite outfit? And which item in your closet means the most to you and why?
GF: I do have a superb floral corduroy Marc Jacobs jacket that I bought from Bloomingdales in New York, which you can see me in the photos. It is wonderful quality and the design in excellent. I wear it often and it always commands much admiration. I feel comfortable and stylish wearing it.
MMD: Apart from the attire, dressing impeccably from the outer, in your opinion, what are the qualities of a modern-day gentleman should have?
GF: the most important quality is still politeness. Chivalry and kindness aren’t far behind though. It is also important to be confident yet retain empathy and compassion.
MMD: As far as I know, apart from your knowledge about fine art, you are also a passionate skier and rugby player, can you share with us how can you develop your hobbies, at the same time, manage the work-life balance from your busy schedule?
GF: You have to make time for each, and in the modern world it is much easier to combine all of your passions. It is important though to know when to switch off from work and engage with your friends, your family and your hobbies.
MMD: What will be your advice to be a good fine art gallerist?
GF: Be honest in all that you do and work hard. That way you will make good clients and you will succeed. Treat all others as you would like to be treated yourself.
Special thanks to Mr. Glenn Fuller.
Image courtesy of Gladwell & Patterson Gallery, London.