Valéry Proust Museum / White Cube Fever

This simple stapled magazine is the product of a project about the museum as a ‘white cube’, based on a text by Theodor Adorno written in 1953 in which Adorno engaged in a debate with Paul Valéry and Marcel Proust and their differing views of what a museum should be. What happens in the space between the work of art (which is presented in isolation) and the spectator?

Camiel van Winkel has now given us an answer to that question by creating an environment in Mu.ZEE Oostende and presenting Adorno’s essay in the empty white form of this insubstantial book, the design of which is an attempt to convey the experience of the white cube. Here we have the pretentious unpretentiousness of unobtrusive presentation as practised by Wim Crouwel in his work for the Stedelijk Museum, and Crouwel’s standard grid for the Stedelijk’s catalogues has now been borrowed by designer Simon Davies. 


There are large areas of white space and simple columns of sans serif text, but with the addition of small illustrations of empty museum rooms at the centre of some pages. At the same time, all that white space creates a distance and an emptiness that remains unbridgeable, so that the design nicely underlines the argument in van Winkel’s introduction.

Edition: 2011
Language: English, Dutch
Final editor: Camiel van Winkel
Publisher / commissioner: AKV | St. Joost, Expertisecentrum Kunst en Vormgeving, Breda
Designer: Simon Davies
Lithographer: Lecturis, Eindhoven
Printer: Lecturis, Eindhoven
Binder: Lecturis, Eindhoven
Dimensions: 210 x 275 x 4
Amount of pages: 48 p.
Number of copies: 1,200
Price: € 7
ISBN: 978 90 76861 26 5
Font and foundry: Univers 55, Univers 75, Neue Helvetica
Binding style: stapled, self cover, fore-edge untrimmed
Material: 170gsm Amber Graphic