Food for thought…The Power of the White Cube

For my inaugural musing in The White Cube Diaries I couldn’t help but address the white cube itself and its ability to authenticate anything within its pristine walls as art. With that said I am not stating that certain objects have falsely been named ‘art’ by being placed within a gallery (though some could disagree), but am merely calling attention to the omnipresent power of white cube of a gallery or museum. This realization could be seen as either horrifying or hopeful in the sense that the gallery is now the deciding factor of ‘true’ artistic merit; which means without it a successful artistic career cannot unfold or on the other hand, if you can convince a gallery to show your work that it will be elevated to ‘Art” (Marcel Duchamp can be thankful for the latter) and possibly have a successful career. Either way one must rely on the white cube. When people ask the question who decides what is art the answer seems to be the white cube.

I must now quote a section from Daniel Buren’s essay Function of Architecture in which he humorously brings to light the ironic the power of the cube.

A Bit of Bread

An empty museum of gallery means nothing, to the extent that it can at any time be transformed into a gym or a baker’s, without changing what will take place there or will be sold there, in terms of work of art in the future, since the social status will also have changed. Placing/exhibiting a work of art in a baker’s will in no way change the function of the aforementioned baker’s, which will never change the work of art into a bit of bread either.

Placing/exhibiting a bit of bread in a museum will in no way change the function of the aforementioned museum, but the later will change the bit of bread into a work of art, at least for the duration of its exhibition.

Now let’s exhibit a bit of bread in a baker’s and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish it from the other bits of bread. Now let’s exhibit a work of art-of any kind-in a museum: can we really distinguish other works of art?

Let us chew on that for awhile…


Salvador Dali, Basket of Bread, 1945


One comment on “Food for thought…The Power of the White Cube

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