Gluck was the chosen name of the painter Hannah Gluckstein who was born into a wealthy family in London. Gluck’s relationship with her family was strained due to her personal decisions: Breaking all the conventions of the time, Gluck decided to start wearing masculine clothes when she was twenty years old – all her clothes were made by a gentlemen’s tailor – cut her hair short and style it as a man. One article in a newspaper said: “She suffers constant embarrassment – being often mistaken for a man”.
Much to her parents’ shock, she never showed interest in getting married nor staying at home as most of the women of the beginning of the XX century were obliged to. Furthermore, Gluck insisted on being known only as Gluck, “no prefix, suffix, or quotes”, and when an art society of which she was vice president identified Gluck as “Miss Gluck” on its letterhead, Gluck resigned.
Gluck decided to write her own story and follow her own rules: guided by her passion for art and her natural talent for drawing and painting, Gluck pursued a career as an artist, creating her own brand and breaking all the stereotypes of the time. At a time when only men held solo exhibitions, Gluck was one of the few women who held her own exhibition.
Gluck never moved abroad and stated in an interview that England was her favourite place in the world: “I prefer to work in England, though I have been abroad many times. I think England the most beautiful country in the world and that inspires me the most to paint”.
The people in Gluck’s paintings are mostly family members, friends… people she already knew. She particularly enjoyed painting glamorous upper-class women. Gluck is also well known for her paintings of nature, especially famous are her paintings of floral arrangements.
In the exhibition you can see her paintings, personal pictures and paper clips of interviews or articles that talk about her back in the day.
This exhibition is small and allows the visitor to get an insight into Gluck’s life: what she liked to paint, how was her personal style, the kind of things she liked to do or where she spend her time.
It is an intimate portrait of an unconventional woman who didn’t fit into the standards of the time and instead stablished new ones.
Lucia Vázquez Bonome
Gluck: Art and Identity is on at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until March 11.
Lucia Vázquez Bonome lives and works in London. She holds a degree in Advertising and an MA in Creative Advertising, both issued in Spain. She has undertaken two screenwriting courses at Morley College in London. While studying advertising, she discovered her passion for writing which translated into her professional life: since 2014 she has written articles for the website ‘The State of the Arts’ where she write reviews on theatre plays, movies, books, art galleries and interviewa artists belonging to different artistic fields. Her love for storytelling led her to compile a collection of short stories into a children’s book entitled “Un Verano Mágico”(A magical summer) which was published in Spain and has been translated to English.
Featured image: Gluck: Art and Identity (2018) (Installation view). Photo: Maria Ines Peixoto