About Matthew Swift
In 2013, I founded Trident Gallery with the intention of bringing to Gloucester a gallery offering the high quality, the professionalism, and the excitement of the ambitious programs of leading galleries in larger cities, while keeping it a welcoming and vibrant center for the region’s extraordinary arts community and its visitors.
In 2019, after six years, fifty exhibitions, and twenty-five live art performances under the name Trident Gallery, I renewed the gallery’s lease and continued under my own name as Matthew Swift Gallery.
As Director, I choose the art I offer, and I advise art collectors, corporate clients, and design professionals in matters of acquiring, displaying, and owning art.
My training is in art criticism. As a student, professor, and then gallery director, I have spent most of the last thirty years of my life thinking about art and in dialogue about art with artists, scholars, students, friends, colleagues, clients, and the public.
My goal as a gallery director is to create a space and to nurture a mindset for gallery patrons which encourages a sense of discovery and a powerful, direct experience with art. When a collector has developed a focus for their next acquisition, I aim to make the process of selection clear, efficient, and responsive to their interests and requirements.
- Bachelor of Science, Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Master of Arts, English, Hollins University
- Doctor of Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, The University Professors Program at Boston University
I spent the first fifteen years of my adult life at universities. In graduate school, I became an interdisciplinary Modernist, taking courses and conducting research in the philosophy of physics and in art criticism. I spent seven years researching and writing about the novels of Samuel Beckett. While trying to catch up to him, a genius and one of the most learned men of the 20th century, I gained a broad education in many areas of western thought — psychology, philosophy, history, religion, music, and theater.
My eyes opened early to the richness and power of what art could do and be as I grew up in Washington DC in a home with Old Master prints and drawings, traditional Chinese and mid-century modern furniture, and contemporary art, much of it Modern and abstract. Many of my relatives and role models have been visual artists, musicians, writers, architects, teachers, and professors of art, history, or literature. My father, Carleton Swift, and his first wife, Mary Davidson Swift, were art collectors and museum trustees, and she edited the Washington Review of the Arts.
My ties to Gloucester go back to my father’s grandfather, Arthur G. Leonard of Chicago, who built a house called Druimteac (“Drumhack”) on Eastern Point in 1920. His wife, Mary Josephine, was a painter and art collector who made purchases (now in my collection) from the new art associations that formed in Gloucester in the 20s. Their grand-daughter, Lila Swift Monell, married and raised four children in Gloucester, all of whom have stayed in Gloucester. I visited Gloucester every year when young, then lived there seasonally and on weekends for twenty years while living in Boston. In 2009 I joined my Gloucester cousins and others from New York to become the latest of Arthur Leonard’s descendants to settle in Gloucester and raise a family.
Among those giants who have personally raised me up, spoken truth, set standards, opened doors, or otherwise mattered a lot, I thank, in no particular order, David Vogan, Alan Brody, Harriet Ritvo, Richard Dillard, Jeanne Larsen, Jürgen Renn, Abner Shimony, Sahotra Sarkar, dissertation readers Sir Christopher Ricks, Sir Geoffrey Hill, and Rosanna Warren, Sir Roger Scruton, Jeffrey Mehlman, and Young Soo Ha. Many more must remain unnamed — teachers before university, mentors and shining stars of personal life.