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History of Art Society

History of Art Society:
Tim Marlow and Jay Jopling
(White Cube Galleries)

Tim Marlow and Jay Jopling, the director and the owner of the White Cube Galleries in London, came to speak to the History of Art Society about their role in promoting and expanding the understanding of contemporary art in Britain.  Jay had left Eton in the early 1980s and gone to Edinburgh University to read History of Art, and there had begun to do his first exhibitions, at this stage raising money for charity.  He then moved to London and persuaded the director of Christie's to give him a room in Duke Street, St James's, free for four years, and it was here that he established the first architect-designed 'White Cube' space for the best display of History of Art.  Among his earliest artists were the celebrated double-artists, Gilbert and George.

Since then he, joined later by Tim, have promoted the best in contemporary art, especially successful with the Young British Artists who first became well-known in the 1990s, people such as Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Damian Hirst.  They now run two large buildings, in Hoxton and in Masons' Yard, off Duke Street.  There were many fascinating ideas about the function of contemporay art in society, and the skills needed to do well in this competitive market.  Jay's considered verdict is that the one vital thing for a gallery-owner is to have a real passion for what you collect and promote - he had never imagined that he could make a decent living out of this career, let alone be handling by 2010 a company that employs over 100 people and is active in 15 countries world-wide.  The small but appreciative audience of boys asked so many questions that Mr Harrison had difficulty closing the meeting down at 10.00pm.

J.D.H.

DATE POSTED: 02 February 2010

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