“Now, having swallowed the pill of contemporary art himself – and making a fortune from the taste – he is administering it, like a dose of good medicine, to the nation.”
Jackie Wullschlager profiles Anthony d’Offay in the Financial Times. His artist’s rooms bequest has begun to tour the UK:
D’Offay was a marketing supremo, able to persuade the art world at a spiritual as well as a commercial level that it wanted nothing more desperately than the artists he championed. But he also swallowed whole Beuys’s belief in the artist as healer, injected it with Warhol’s deadpan democracy of images, and now, at the apex of his career, he has melded them together into the accessible, wildly romantic yet eminently practical ideal of Artist Rooms.
D’Offay’s mother was a Jewish antiques dealer, his father a surgeon of French colonial background. He inherited his mother’s flair and his father’s scalpel attention to detail but was distant from his parents: “I only felt I was myself when I was with works of art.” [ . . . ]
By the mid-1960s, d’Offay had a small gallery off Piccadilly. By the 1970s he was showing British contemporaries including Lucian Freud. A 1972 show led to a retrospective at the Hayward in 1974 and d’Offay then dared to raise Freud’s prices above £1,500. The teenage Jay Jopling bought his first work of art, a Gilbert and George limited edition, from d’Offay’s gallery in the 1970s and later won the duo themselves for his own gallery, White Cube.
An Art Dealer’s Gift to the British (Financial Times)