Inside the White Cube Book by Brian O’Doherty

Subject: Literature
Pages: 3
Words: 722
Reading time:
< 1 min
Study level: Bachelor


“Inside the White cube” by Brian O’Doherty is an art book published in the 1970s that majorly employed the ideology of the gallery space. The art book critically examines the impacts of the post-war crisis on artwork and the museum gallery. The work by O’Doherty aims at rubbing off the past perspective on art, where art was considered an illusion in the past(O’doherty, 1999). However, today, art is made out of illusion. From “inside the white cube” prove and reinstates the author’s aim that artwork has its unique position in the space.

Critical Engagement with Text

The author explores the main reason for designing the modern gallery space using neutral patterns. For example, the use of the white cube is part of the artwork that gives the exhibition special and unique attractiveness. O’Doherty reveals that the primary objective of the gallery space is not focused on the white cube because the exhibition alone and the design involved in making the exhibition are historical. The revelation of O’Doherty that the exhibition of the white cube is historical explains why art frequently gets to be made in a clumsy and unskilful manner (O’doherty, 1999). Art requires history that has been perceived through time in that the author or artist has a picture of the art through his eyes and mind. O’Doherty unveils the importance of space by showing that space offers a powerful platform for the exhibition.

O’Doherty’s Argument

The author argues that there is a need to maintain the use of space while exhibiting various artworks. He gives a vivid illustration of what the modern gallery has done to artwork and insists that the outside world, that is, modern society, should not be included during the exhibition of artwork (O’doherty, 1999). The author insists that the walls should be painted white and ceilings remain untouched to act as a source of light. The white cube is designed so that the social space is neutralized and time to free itself depending on the surroundings.

O’Doherty’s Position

Further, the author illustrates the importance of walls in exhibiting artwork and how they can be maximized to get the best out of them by providing a platform for the artwork. The author believes that it is the competitiveness of the gallery wall that made the gallery wall turn into an area of focus where ideologies and artwork can be expressed (Sorokin, 2019). The white wall was modified into an aesthetic force to give a platform for the recognition of an artwork where the artwork got a unique presentation and attracted a view to the audience.

Lessons Learned from the Book “Inside the White Cube”

The audience learns that the white cube is crucial as it has turned the gallery space to be void where there is no place for a living being but a bodiless or independent being with an autonomous view and pure intelligence. In the chapter of the book named “the eye and the Spectator,” the author gives an insight into the situation concerning the autonomous view separating itself from the body to view the flat surface of the modern painting. In the chapter named “context as content,” the author analyses the works of Marcel Duchamp; 1,200 Coal Bags (1938) and Mile of String (1942), where we learn that Duchamp was the first to develop a gallery space where the primary materials were altered by art (O’doherty, 1999). The gallery space had the attention of most artists during that time, 1970. In the last part, named “The Gallery as Gesture,” we learn of the various manipulations the gallery space has undergone. From all the gestures that took place, we understand that all the manipulations were similar and related to each other.


According to O’Doherty, exhibition spaces are essential to attract the audience and interest in artwork since artworks are enhanced to have an appealing and attractive form that entertains the audience. Thus, he insisted that the walls be painted white and let the ceiling act as a source of light. However, in contemporary art, the three-dimensional form of artwork is mainly used to make art an exciting field and acknowledge its history. It would be appropriate for artists to apply the painting of the walls as an additional approach to make artwork an appetizing and appealing practice in conjunction with the three-dimensional forms.


Sorokin, B. (2019). White Cube: The Gallery Space Shaping. Naukma Research Papers. History And Theory Of Culture.

O’doherty, B. (1999). Inside the white cube: The ideology of the gallery space. The University of California Press.