Maddox Gallery in Gstaad is showing the first official retrospective of Terry O’Neill’s work since the photographer, known for his portraits of celebrities, passed away last year.
Maddox Gallery in Gstaad is showing the first official retrospective of Terry O’Neill’s work since the photographer, known for his portraits of celebrities, passed away last year. Jay Rutland, creative director of Maddox Gallery, is very pleased to have brought this world premiere to the Saanenland, especially since many of the photographer’s subjects are current or former residents.
Wandering down the Gstaad Promenade, it is hard to miss Maddox Gallery. A giant 2.7 tonne bronze astronaut The Thinker by artist Joseph Klibansky that had to be lifted in place by a crane sits pensively by the entrance.
Since opening its Swiss outpost in 2017, Maddox Gallery in Gstaad has had one blockbuster exhibition after another. But its current show, Terry O’Neill: Every Picture Tells a Story, A Retrospective, is a real coup. It is the first official retrospective since O’Neill passed away last November, and the gallery’s creative director, Jay Rutland, is very pleased: “We weren’t the only ones looking to show his work. We were chosen over museums, over auction houses, over galleries. We’re very happy with how everything has come together.”
Only five years after opening its first gallery in London, nabbing the O’Neill exhibition cements Maddox Gallery as a serious player in the international contemporary art scene. Today, Maddox Gallery has five locations, three in London and outposts in Gstaad and Los Angeles. “I never in my wildest dreams expected that it would expand and grow like it has. We thought it would be one gallery where we could have some fun with artists and hopefully sell a few pieces along the way. It grew very quickly. At one point we were opening a new gallery every 6 months”, says Rutland.
A former stock broker, Rutland launched Maddox Gallery in response to a very personal interest in art. “Maddox was born from the idea that I love art and I would love to do something that actually is a passion. My first-ever purchase was a Banksy because of my brother-in-law. He told me about the artist and I thought he was quite cool. When I think back I didn’t have an inkling that Banksy was going to go the heights he’s gone to. We’re going back over twenty years. So I bought a Banksy. I bought a couple more Banksys, and then I was an avid collector all through my twenties and into my thirties, without being actively involved in the art world.”
Today, Rutland is very much involved in the art world. In his role as creative director of Maddox Gallery, Rutland sources, curates, and exhibits blue-chip and established artists as well as newcomers to the art scene. Selecting which artists to show in his galleries is a collaborative process. For the Gstaad space, Rutland works closely with Fi Lovett, european director, and Roger Niklasiewicz, gallery manager. “Selection of shows is something we discuss at great lengths, to figure out what is possible and what would work best. And certainly, Fi and Roger’s input on that is so valuable because they are the troops on the ground, they know the clients here in Gstaad and they know what our clients like.”
The team discussed showing O’Neill’s work long before the photographer passed away last year because so many of his subjects were Gstaad residents. Rutland also has a personal connection to the artist since his father-in-law, Bernie Ecclestone, was friends with the photographer and Rutland’s wife, Tamara Ecclestone, was photographed by O’Neill. Rutland believes that having a family connection to the artist and having a gallery location in Gstaad helped the team secure the sought-after exhibition.
Seeing the O’Neill works in the Maddox Gallery space right in the heart of Gstaad, it is hard to imagine a better place to show them. The photographs of current and former Gstaad residents such as Roger Moore, Elizabeth Taylor, and Julie Andrews to name a few, remind us of a time when the hills of the Saanenland were alive with old Hollywood glamour. The exhibition rings up a sense of nostalgia. Portrayed just as they were, often without the restraints of today’s celebrity managers and agents, O’Neill captured their stardom on film. Audrey Hepburn, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, the list goes on and on.
When asked if he has a personal favourite, Rutland points to the group photograph of his fatherin-law with F1 drivers, and says laughingly: “Well I have to say this one…but I do genuinely love this because of the childhood memories it brings back for me of watching F1 with my father. And that’s what I love about Terry O’Neill’s work: everybody has a different favourite, which is always a sign of a good artist or photographer.”
ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON