The White Cube gallery is so-called because it is, at least on the inside, essentially a big white cube.
When it first opened, its 58,000 square feet of sterile space made it the largest commercial art gallery in Europe, and all of that emptiness was a very deliberate attempt by owner Jay Jopling to create a semi-literal blank canvas for the not-so-blank canvases that were gracing its walls.
The merits of this approach can be debated – in fact, in 1999 an art group known as the Stuckists “opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system” actually opened a gallery with coloured walls opposite White Cube – but what is absolutely certain is the success & impact the gallery has enjoyed over the years. It was the first to show works by many of the YBAs, including Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk, and now it has branches in New York, Paris, and Hong Kong.
The space itself is down on Bermondsey Street, where its vast interior of flawlessly polished concrete propping up the pure alabaster walls is genuinely impressive, if only for the sheer scale of it all. There’s a large main room and a couple of smaller spaces accessible from the ‘hallway’ that takes up the bulk of the gallery, and most of it is covered in artworks.
Currently on show is Harland Miller: Imminent End, Rescheduled Eternally (16th November 2022 – 22nd January 2023). As the White Cube puts it, ‘Whether using a single word or a phrase, a geometric or condensed typeface, these works attest to Miller’s deep-rooted engagement with the narrative, aural and typographical possibilities of language’. So if you understood any of that, then you’ll probably enjoy it…
If this all sounds a bit much, don’t be intimidated. Despite its size, the gallery is relatively easy to take in for a quick whip around, always provides visitors a printed guide, and is free of charge due to the fact it’s a commercial gallery. And being on Bermondsey Street means that there’s not exactly a shortage of decent restaurants nearby…
…perfect for a square meal.
NOTE: White Cube gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday. There is no admission fee. You can find out more at the website right here.
White Cube | 144-152, Bermondsey St, SE1 3TQ
About those places to eat… here are the best restaurants in London Bridge
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