White Cube in London
White Cube is a contemporary art gallery designed by MRJ Rundell & Associates in Hoxton Square in the East End of London Mason's Yard, in central London and White Cube Bermondsey in South East London. The gallery exhibits Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and other internationally-recognised artists.
White Cube is owned and run by the art dealer Jay Jopling (an Old Etonian and son of a Conservative MP) who, until September 2008, was married to artist Sam Taylor-Wood. It was first opened in a small, square room in May 1993 in Duke Street, St James's, a traditional art dealing street in the West End of London. In that location there was a gallery rule that an artist could only be exhibited once. The gallery achieved its reputation by being the first to give one person shows to many of the Young British Artists (YBAs), including Tracey Emin.
It moved to one of its two present larger premises in April 2000. The 1920s building at 48 Hoxton Square had previously been occupied by the small publishing company Gerald Duckworth & Co., and had once been a piano factory. In 2002, an extra two stories (750 m²) were added by hoisting a prefabricated unit on top of the existing structure.
The Hoxton/Shoreditch area has been popular with the Young British Artists (YBAs) since the 1990s, at which time it was a run-down area of light industry. More recently it has undergone extensive redevelopment with clubs, restaurants and media businesses. Hoxton Square is a prime site with a central area of grass and trees, which the vicinity is mostly lacking.
White Cube previews are open to the public and crowds fill the square on such occasions. Its publicly-accessible interior is a small reception area, which leads onto a 250-m² exhibition area downstairs, two storeys in height. Another smaller exhibition space upstairs often shows a different artist. Offices and a conference room are on the upper floors. On some occasions exhibitions have been installed on the grass of the square, one example being Hirst's large sculpture (22 ft, 6.7 m) Charity, based on the old Spastic Society's model, which shows a girl in a leg brace holding a charity collecting box.
White Cube also offers artists' editions.
In September 2006, it opened a second site at 25–26 Mason's Yard, off Duke Street, St. James's, home of the original White Cube gallery, on a plot previously occupied by an electricity sub-station. The gallery, designed by MRJ Rundell & Associates, is the first free-standing building to be built in the St James's area for more than 30 years.
In October 2011, a third space, White Cube Bermondsey was opened on Bermondsey Street. The building was formerly a 1970s warehouse and was converted into 58,000 sq ft of interior space making it, at launch, Europe's biggest commercial gallery.
In 1999, the Stuckists art group declared themselves "opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system", and opened their own gallery (with coloured walls) in an adjoining street. On another occasion in 2002, while dressed as clowns, they deposited a coffin marked "The Death of Conceptual Art" outside the White Cube's door.
In 2003, Charles Saatchi launched an attack on the concept of the white wall gallery, calling it "antiseptic" and a "time warp ... dictated by museum fashion".
Nick Cohen commented on the 2006 Gilbert and George show Sonofagod Pictures: Was Jesus Heterosexual? at White Cube, "Last week I went to the East End of London to witness the death of the avant-garde."
Artists shown at the gallery include:
- Ellen Altfest
- Jake and Dinos Chapman
- Chuck Close
- Gilbert and George
- Antony Gormley
- Andreas Gursky
- Marcus Harvey
- Mona Hatoum
- Eberhard Havekost
- Gary Hume
- Anselm Kiefer
- Martin Kobe
- Elad Lassry
- Julie Mehretu
- Sarah Morris
- Gabriel Orozco
- Marc Quinn
- Doris Salcedo
- Neal Tait
- Sam Taylor-Wood
- Gavin Turk
- Koen Van Den Broek
- Jeff Wall
- Brian O'Doherty, writer on white cube philosophy