Exercise 5.1: Origins of the White Cube

For this exercise we have to read Thomas McEvilley’s introduction to “Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space” which is a summary O’Doherty’s of essays. After reading the introduction we have to note the key points and our reflections.

As in previous essays my key points will be in normal text whereas the reflections in italics.

This discussion of this essay is different to the previous ones, as the text we have to discuss is already a discussion/ summary/ introduction for other essays. So we are actually discussing a discussion.  For this reason, I think I will just summarise and discuss the main concept of the essay.

According to the authors, there are similarities on the way the art galleries and religious building have been build/ decorated and the reasons they have been build. Furthermore, there are similarities on how somebody feels and acts when they visit an art gallery and a church.

It is also mentioned that in some galleries, if I understood correctly, have white walls so we can only concentrate on the piece of art we are looking at. In addition, the gallery tries to isolate us from the outside world so we can concentrate on what we are looking, be present and forget about everything else.

I understand this point. However, I want to mention that I always enjoy visiting art exhibitions in places that have not been build for this purpose. Two examples of these are the Crypt Gallery in London and the use of old storage places (some of them not properly renovated) in the Port of Thessaloniki, Greece as exhibitions halls for modern art and photography. I do not think that it is something bad for the art to interfere with the exhibition places (sometimes successfully, some not). I found it more interesting than a White Cube. Unless, there is a modern art installation, where and when the artist does not want any interference of the building itself.   

I think, I agree with the discussion about how we feel when we enter an art gallery. Although, it is does not make sense the feeling is indeed similar to what I/we feel when I /we enter a church and possibly they way I/ we act is similar. There is a feeling of awe, if that is the correct world, and I do not know if that because of the buildings or a state of mind. I think it is also a matter of respect of the place etc, and also respect to the people/visitors around us.

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