The White Cube: Institutions, Validation and Elitism
Richard Dawkins (2006), in The Root of All Evil. Channel 4
National Gallery of Scotland (2000-9)
Opened in 1859.
Museum of Modern Art Building [centre] (2004).
Designed by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward D. Stone in 1939.
“The Museum interior was turned into
antiseptic, laboratory-like spaces –
enclosed, isolated, artificially illuminated
and apparently neutral environments in
which viewers could study works of art
displayed as so many isolated specimens”
(Wallach 1992 , p. 282)
Tate Liverpool (2006)
Iowa Museum of Art (2006)
Interior of the National Gallery of
Scotland, c.1867-77, Anonymous
“Clearly, the more „aesthetic‟ the installations - the
fewer objects and the emptier the surrounding walls –
the more sacralised the Museum space [...]
“... In the liminal space of the museum, everything – and
sometimes anything – may become art, including fire
extinguishers, thermostats, and humidity gauges, which, when
isolated on a wall and looked at through the aestheticizing lens
of museum space, can appear, if only for a mistaken
moment, every bit at interesting as some of the intended-as-art
works...” (Duncan 1998 , p.484, p.485)
r Alfred Barr (1936)
“The popular aesthetic (of the working class) is based on an
aesthetic „in itself‟ rather than „for itself‟. It allows for a naive
stance; the passions, feeling and emotions that ordinary
people invest in life. Pure taste, on the other hand, is the
opposite: it suspends naive involvement because it provides
no place for the necessities of life themselves.” (Grenfell
and Hardy 2007, p.42)
“...what Bourdieu is arguing is that many art critics discuss
the formal properties of painting in an „ahistorical‟ manner in
order to establish „the exclusive validity of an internal
reading‟ – in other words, reading and deciphering the
developments of artistic forms in a manner which occults the
social conditions which produced them.” (p.48)
Daniel Buren. Left: New York, John Weber Gallery (1972) and Right:
Dusseldorf (1972) Konrad Fischer Gallery
Shapoloski et al. Manhattan Real Estate
Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as
Hans Haacke of May 1, 1971 (1971)
Musée d‟Orsay. Opened as an art gallery in
1981. (Main structure completed in 1900)
Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. Pompidou Centre, built in 1977.
Daniel Libeskind (2001) Jewish Museum [Denmark and Berlin]
Queen Idia Mask (16th century)
Museum of Metropolitan Art
“History has it that sometime February 1897, the then
British empire out of a coercive step which it termed
“Punitive measure” invaded the old Benin Empire
(ancient Benin Kingdom), now located in Nigeria, and
deposed Oba Ovomramwen to Calabar in the present
Cross River state of Nigeria, slainning many of his
traditional chiefs and killing innocents in the city. The
British imperialist then raided the private cultural centre
of the Kingdom by stealing and exiling more than 3000
artefacts belonging to the Kingdom.” (Ajibulu )
Ajibulu, E (2009) Artefacts: British Museum should
return Queen Idia Mask at
queen-idia-.html [accessed 04/06/09]
Duncan, C (1998 ) The Art Museum as
Ritual, in Preziozi, D (ed) The Art of Art History.
Oxford, Oxford University Press. Pp 473- 485.
Grenfell, M and Cheryl Hardy (2007) Art Rules:
Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts. Oxford, Berg.
O‟Doherty, B (1999 ) Inside the White Cube:
The Ideology of the Gallery Space.
California, California University Press.