This essay style book written by Brian O’Doherty gives us a more philosophical and explicative insight into the set up of a gallery space. The two chapters that were of interest to me at this stage in my work are chapter 1: Notes on the Gallery Space and Chapter 2: The Eye and The Spectator.
The first chapter of the book focusses on Notes on the Gallery. This chapter looks at how are pieces fit in to a space and the importance of a space, the author highlights “we have reached a point where we see not art but the space”. The laws of a gallery are more strict than previously, curating and seeing up a gallery have become an art in themselves. “A gallery is constructed along laws as rigorous as those for building a medieval church” This almost brings a holy aspect to the rules of the gallery space. The space is “devoted to the technology of esthetics” with all the laws of the present gallery space O’Doherty explains the way in which work sits in the room and the constraints of a frame.
O’Doherty goes on to describe the relation between the picture plane and the underlying wall. He looks at how the easel image could never be transferred to the wall. This looks at an alternative display method.
“How much space should an artwork have?” This is another question that pose a lot of artists when faced with a gallery space situation, along with this “What goes together? What doesn’t?”. Each work demands enough space so the effect is over before its neighbouring piece is revealed. When setting up an exhibition this is crucial as a viewer and as an artist. One piece cannot distract from another and not be seen before the previous is finished.
The second chapter focusses on The Eye and The Spectator another important topic for my exhibition. O’Doherty describes the viewer as someone who is not conscious of the world of art, he downgrades the viewer in comparison to the artist however he highlights the eye as the more interested viewer. “The eye can be directed”, “one must stay on good terms with the eye” “eager to please”. However the eye is known to lie. The chapter also looks at different artists and movements and how as a spectator was could see these pieces.
Although some of the themes of this book are very similar to those of today. Having been written in 1976 it is very sexist towards the viewer considering the viewer is always male. This book is hard to understand as it philosophical point of view is very complexed. I think it has certain aspects that would aide an artist with the design of an exhibition however the ideas within are dated. The complexed themes in terms of how an exhibition should aesthetically look have I feel changed since the era it was written. Easels are less and less common as ways of displaying and an audience is vaster. Art is more accessible and therefore more adventurous proving that this idea of a white cube being the base of all galleries is simply no longer true.
O’Doherty B, (1976) Inside the White Cube, University of California Press