White Cube is a contemporary art gallery owned by Jay Jopling with two branches in London: Mason's Yard in central London and Bermondsey in South East London, one in Hong Kong and one in São Paulo. The Hoxton Square space in the East End of London was closed at the end of 2012. The gallery became famous curating 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.
In April 2000 it moved to 48 Hoxton Square, a 1920s building that 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 were open to the public and crowds used to fill the square on such occasions. Its publicly accessible interior had a small reception area, which lead onto a 250-m² exhibition area downstairs, two storeys in height. Another smaller exhibition space upstairs often showed 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 Hoxton Square closed at the end of 2012.
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 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.
White Cube Hong Kong is situated at 50 Connaught Road, in the heart of Hong Kong's Central district. It is the only original White Cube gallery to be located externally to the UK. The gallery opened in March 2012. Many artists have exhibited there already including Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst and Cerith Wyn Evans. The gallery presents in an internal exhibition space of 550 m2 (6000 sq ft), which is set over two floors and has a ceiling height of over 4.5 metres. The architects that designed White Cube Hong Kong were London based named Maybank and Matthews.
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.
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."
In 2011, an anonymous group of net artists launched a website under the domain name, whitecu.be, as, among other ideas, an experimental institutional critique of authorship and trademark practices. Growing in popularity and momentum toward the end of 2011, the site was deleted by the DNS.be authorities after receiving a cancellation request from White Cube's lawyers. The artists transformed the subsequent legal correspondence into 19 standalone artworks.
Artists shown at the gallery include:
- Ellen Altfest
- Jake and Dinos Chapman
- Chuck Close
- Theaster Gates
- Gilbert and George
- Antony Gormley
- Andreas Gursky
- Marcus Harvey
- Mona Hatoum
- Eberhard Havekost
- Gary Hume
- Anselm Kiefer
- Martin Kobe
- Elad Lassry
- Christian Marclay
- 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
- Jury, Louise (10 May 2012). "Cultural shift as White Cube says farewell to Hoxton base". London Evening Standard online, retrieved 2013-01-04 
- Official website "About" page
- Jury, Louise (11 October 2011). "White Cubed third site for Jopling gallery". London Evening Standard online, retrieved 2011-10-11 
- "White Cube Demo 2002", stuckism.com. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
- Cripps, Charlotte. "Visual arts: Saying knickers to Sir Nicholas, The Independent, 7 September 2004. Retrieved from findarticles.com, 7 April 2008.
- Milner, Catherine (27 September 2003). "Saatchi Turns on 'Cliched' Britart Rivals". The Daily Telegraph..
- Cohen, Nick (19 February 2006). "The Rout of the Avant-Garde". Retrieved 6 March 2007.
- Whitecu.be (2011-12). "I trolled Jay Jopling into paying the Kingdom of Belgium 1,620 EUR in chump change and all I got was this lousy legal correspondence from his high profile law firm". Retrieved 8 March 2012.
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