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 and one in Central, Hong Kong Island. The Hoxton Square space in the East End of London was closed at the end of 2012 and the São Paulo gallery in 2015.
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. 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 opened in March 2012 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. 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 space was designed by London-based architects Maybank and Matthews.
White Cube São Paulo opened in December 2012 in a converted warehouse in the centre of the city, on a three-year lease. The gallery launched after a one-off project in the space by Antony Gormley, organised in conjunction with the British artist’s major exhibition at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil São Paulo in the summer of 2012. The gallery hosted a series of exhibitions by artists including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Larry Bell and Theaster Gates. It closed in 2015.
In summer 2015, White Cube showed works from its stable of artists at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in East Sussex - White Cube at Glyndebourne. The launch exhibition, held in a newly designed space created by the London-based architectural studio Carmody Groarke, featured a selection of paintings by the German artist Georg Baselitz.
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.
In 2015 the gallery was targeted by anti-gentrification activists who graffitied "Yuppies Out" and "Class War" onto the wall of an apartment near the gallery.
Artists shown at the gallery include:
- Etel Adnan
- Ellen Altfest
- Martin John Callanan
- 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
- Rachel Kneebone
- Imi Knoebel
- Elad Lassry
- Christian Marclay
- Julie Mehretu
- Sarah Morris
- Gabriel Orozco
- Marc Quinn
- Doris Salcedo
- Sam Taylor-Wood
- Gavin Turk
- Jeff Wall
Artists previously represented by the gallery include:
- Brian O'Doherty, writer on white cube philosophy
- "About White Cube". whitecube.com.
- Jury, Louise (11 October 2011). "White Cubed third site for Jopling gallery". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- Anny Shaw (July 6, 2015), White Cube to close São Paulo gallery after three-year lease ends The Art Newspaper.
- White Cube goes to the opera The Art Newspaper, May 20, 2015.
- "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 (December 2011). "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.
- "DNS Belgium". DNS Belgium.
- "DNS Belgium" (PDF). DNS Belgium.
- "Vandals daub 'yuppies out' and 'class war' on south London art gallery". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
- Richelle Simon (June 2, 2015), Artist moves The Art Newspaper.