Ex. 5.1: Origins of the White Cube

I read Thomas McEvilley’s introduction to ‘Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space’. I’ve summarised the key points here:

  • Within a white space, art is ‘free’; not affected by the outside world.
  • Art is eternal and timeless within that untarnished space.
  • McEvilley sees many parallels between the gallery structure with the history of religion, in particular with Egyptian tombs.
  • There is a specific sensibility that is created within a gallery, of artistic posterity; of the masterpiece.
  • The viewer leaves mostly everything about themselves behind, keeping their ‘eye’ and ‘spectator’. This is a similar state to being ‘dead’ and thus able to purely take in the visual.
  • Artists have, over the years, used the gallery itself as art.
  • The white cube is the ‘end point’ of the defining of the ‘self’.

In terms of my own reflections I felt that the history is overly complicated by McEvilley, there’s less of a focus on the framing of art and more on coincidental shared aspects. Perhaps the ‘white cube’ is the end-point of the framing of art; an empty space that doesn’t in any way infringe on the pieces themselves.

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