Nathan Clements-Gillespie is the kind of man who offers you a glass of champagne and homemade bircher muesli upon arriving to interview him at his apartment in Chelsea, London. We first met earlier this year at the Hannah Barry Gallery summer party in Peckham and have since crossed paths at numerous exhibition openings and art fairs across Europe. Nathan was raised in Rome where his American parents first met at an art exhibition, so it feels inevitable that he has carved an impressive path in the art world.
Despite summering on Nantucket Island – a coincidence we share – he was raised in Italy before studying Italian and French Literature at Oxford University. Remarkably, Nathan also has a degree from La Sorbonne where he spent his year abroad. There in Paris, he developed his sartorial flare, describing how, “I was always interested in fashion, but became more involved when I hosted a birthday party in Paris and a guest brought friends from Central St Martins. I couldn’t have imagined more talented, energetic people and now I buy from the French brands they work for like Lanvin and Saint Laurent.” As for the rest, Nathan revealed that, “in London, I go to Smythson or Mount Street Printers for stationary. Then it’s John Lobb on St James’s street for shoes and Paule Ka when I need a present for someone special.”
When asked how he began his career in the art world, Nathan conveyed that, “it began in the Oxford town hall during an interview for a financial institution. My attention drifted to the beautiful ceiling panels by Pietro da Cortona, it felt like a sign to consider other avenues and so I applied for an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.” After that he worked for Peter Freeman in New York and then the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale – a role perfectly combining his American and Italian roots. In January 2010, Luca Massimo Barbero, curator at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and then director at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome sought him out. And by 2012, “I became External Affairs Director and worked on the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale curated by MACRO’s new director, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi.”
Across his career, Nathan has always been known for the broad spectrum of art which he engages with. From behind his desk, the collector described how, “I spend part of my summers in Greece on archaeological sites, and the idea of cross-collecting and looking at artistic creation across different media and time is very stimulating to me. I believe that it’s as fascinating to explore the promise of a younger generation as it is to engage with mid-career artists or to look back through artists’ estates with the benefit of hindsight and see how revolutionary they were for their time, and how relevant their work still is today. El Greco is one of my favourite examples, if I weren’t so familiar with his work, I wouldn’t think him out of place in a contemporary art fair.”