Most modern art galleries have a uniform design known as “the white cube.” Brian O’Doherty describes the design in a group of essays published by Artforum in the ’70s, writing, “[a] gallery is constructed along laws as rigorous as those for building a medieval church… Walls are painted white… The wooden floor is polished… the art is free, as the saying used to go, ‘to take on its own life.'” These rules leave little room for distinction, and apart from the art itself, the architecture of the building becomes the sole means of expression.
Like museums, galleries have begun to invest in their architecture in an attempt to separate themselves from the crowd and become an “icon.” Good architecture can turn galleries into gesamtkunstwerk, or total works of art. The following galleries from the Architizer database are examples of the contemporary impulse to emphasize both the art on display inside a gallery and the building that houses it, creating a holistic experience for the gallery visitor.
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