The art dealer talks about his rise from selling fire extinguishers to making household names of Britain’s YBAs.
Standing on bohemian, buzzing Bermondsey Street in south London, outside Europe’s biggest commercial art gallery, its owner Jay Jopling gazes through a row of upright, painted steel fins that demarcates the courtyard. “I wanted a low wall, to be welcoming, open, but the local planning department wouldn’t allow it,” he explains. “I never forget walking down Cork Street [in Mayfair] as a student and the gallerists watching me, sizing up whether I could afford pictures or not. All my galleries have big glass doors. This building is simple, democratic – an open front, a white cube in the middle. It’s very transparent. It isn’t just for people buying art.”