Landscape- Exercise 5:1-Origins of the White Cube

In this exercise we were asked to read the first chapter of Inside the White Cube- The Ideology of the Gallery Space by Brian O’Doherty. While reading, we had to make notes and record our reflections.

My notes and reflections

  • The comparisons between churches and galleries
    1. Both require “the outside world must not come in” and the idea that they eliminate awareness of the outside world
    2. Plain walls and ceiling as the source of light
    3. Space to appear timeless, out of time, beyond time
    4. As they appear unchanging, the creators are trying to give the appearance of eternality
    5. People visit these places with a single intention
    6. When visiting, people suppress their “individual interests in favour of group interests” and cooperate/follow the rules of the premises
    7. The spaces promote the points of view of the powering group and “censors” the rest of the world.
  • When using the examples of Egyptian burial chambers and Palaeolithic caves, he talks of how they are always in the furthest possible place so they were sheltered from change and time but they also acted as a middle ground between heaven and earth. They also offer an illusion of eternal presence
  • Art is the new religion, in this day and age, people will flock to see artist’s work much like they would have previously flocked to see archbishops and the Pope.
  • In the presence of art, we reduce ourselves to the Eye (views things without prejudice or bias) and the Spectator (the body that holds the wandering Eye)
  • There are two ways that the White Cube developed
    1. Out of the tradition of Western easel paintings
    2. The anti-formalist tradition where the gallery space is the material which is altered by the art.
  • The white cube being a transitional device as it “wipes out the past at the same time it controls the future” and it appeals to ‘other worldly’ thoughts. The issue with this is that it speaks of another world to which we do not belong. This leads back to the point about places between heaven and earth
  • The overall meaning and purpose of the White Cube is a blank canvas which is disguised and transformed for specific social purposes and it is a blank space which allows things to evolve.



About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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