Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Reader 1

Bill Anthes

Reader 2

Ciara Ennis

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© 2023 Sabina Eastman


The desire to create a language through which reading artwork can be attainable to an inclusive audience is a relatively modern aspiration. Painting and sculpture have been longstanding ideals of elite aesthetic ambition, which are held in containers of cultural and social tradition, removed from the ebb and flow of mundane existence. These containers were initially created to encapsulate historic moments, providing insight into a creator and their ideas which were inaccessible to the audience of that era. Since the early 19th century, the conversation in art theory has turned toward the meaning, purpose, and justification for the design and function of these containers, specifically in regard to the exhibition of modern and contemporary art, much of which has yet to be placed within the bounds of a certain aesthetic period. Since the white cube gallery design was ingrained into mainstream museological culture in the early twentieth- century, the context of display has been exalted to the stature of the artwork itself. The pioneers of this debate include but are not limited to—Clement Greenberg, Rosalind Krauss, Brian O’Doherty, Bruce Ferguson, and Carol Duncan. These writers critiqued the institutional structures of museum and gallery display and expressed the impulse for a canon of access to art and, as Ferguson described, a language of exhibition. However, the need for 21st-century exhibition rhetorics has not yet been met. This essay will propose a modern framework for galleries and museums to function in terms of their exhibition methods of contemporary art.