New York’s Jerry Saltz launches this critique of the contemporary gallery in his review of the White Columns anniversary show:
It’s great that New York has large spaces for art. But the enormous immaculate box has become a dated, even oppressive place. Many of these spaces were designed for sprawling installations, large paintings, and the Relational Aesthetics work of the past fifteen years. As this type of art fades, these spaces can be seen for what they are: theatrical, generalizing, antiseptic environments that make art look like it’s in an isolation cell or an operating room.
The white cube today is a parody of itself. Since these spaces first appeared in the seventies, a monstrous reversal has taken place. Where once the ethos of the architecture arose from and worked with the art on view, today art is being determined by the viewing spaces, which have mutated to a point where they are the main content of any show. 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.
Down with the Cube! (New York)