Gallery

The Pandemic Closed Art Galleries’ Doors. But Who Said a Gallery Needs Four Walls and a Ceiling?

The traditional art gallery—the sterile, windowless viewing room aptly labeled the “white cube” by artist and critic Brian O’Doherty in 1976—has dominated the art world for decades as the primary way to display works. The white cube, which has been compared to an operating room as well as a burial vault, has been championed as a way to maintain neutrality while viewing artworks. “The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceiling becomes the source of light. The wooden floor is polished so that you click along clinically, or carpeted so that you pad soundlessly, resting the feet while the eyes have at the wall. The art is free, as the saying used to go, ‘to take on its own life,’” O’Doherty wrote in Artforum.

But its eerie, clinical neutrality comes at a price. The cube creates something artificial

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