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The Ivory Tower: Illuminating the holy concept of the White Cube

Why are we almost obsessed with the White Cube concept? Are we still encouraged to shed the noise of the outside world and enter a sacred cocoon of reflection? Stepping into a White Cube, is a journey into a realm where art and ideas converge, where the environment becomes a canvas for contemplation.

The pristine walls and stark minimalism of the setting serve as a blank canvas, allowing the art displayed within to take center stage. The White Cube beckons with the promise of a transcendental experience, inviting all who enter the ivory tower to explore the profound and the profoundest corners of human expression.

© Eye of the Collector

What are the meaning and the physical effects of White?

White stands for power and hauteur. White is often associated with purity, innocence, cleanliness, coldness, purity, and minimalism – depending on the cultural habitat. In fact, it also creates “breathing room” between two or more elements. White is illuminating, helping our minds to focus, and aiding in organization. This color is definite and marks borders, but too much white can be uncomfortable, even blinding.

Noteworthy as well: The architectural idolization of white is strongly embedded in our fundamental aesthetics. Some voices may rise and regret that the splendor of color of the old palaces and temples has disappeared over the centuries, washed away over time.

Why do we still cling to this concept?

Neutrality as the concept’s universal aesthetic transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, from a huge powerhouse in New York to the smallest gallery in Salzburg. Further, focus. The concept provides an unadorned, neutral space that allows artworks to shine without distraction. This emphasis on artistic integrity: a deeper connection between the viewer and the artwork. On top, White Cube spaces are still relevant as they are highly adaptable, making them suitable for a wide range of art forms and exhibitions.

Why do we get the impression of being in a sanatorium?

The White Cube's sterile environment can lead to a homogenization of art, discouraging experimentation and diversity in artistic expression. The rigid, clinical atmosphere may stifle unconventional or provocative works that thrive in alternative, more immersive settings. Furthermore, the stark white walls and minimalist design can disconnect artworks from their broader cultural and historical contexts. This detachment may dilute the intended message of certain works. In addition, the pristine, often high-end gallery spaces can be intimidating to many potential art enthusiasts, perpetuating the notion that art is reserved for an exclusive few.

“The giant White Cube is now impeding rather than enhancing the rhythms of art. It preprograms a viewer’s journey, shifts the emphasis from process to product, and lacks individuality and openness. It’s not that art should be seen only in rutty bombed-out environments, but it should seem alive.” – Jerry Saltz

While the White Cube concept has undeniably left an indelible mark on the art world, its relevance today is a subject of debate. The current contemporary desires long surely for diversity, inclusivity, and immersive artistic experiences. Let’s stay tuned and open for what the future will bring.

Yours truly,


A&P sidenote: Eye of the Collector is an art platform comprising of a boutique London art fair, an accopanying online/social media platform, and a network of collectors spanning the globe founded by Nazy Vassegh. Hold tight to their 2024 edition.

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