Whiteread is one of the so-called
Young British Artists, and exhibited at the Royal Academy's "Sensation" exhibition in 1997. She is probably best known for "Ghost", a large plastercast of the inside of a room in a Victorian house, and for her resinsculpture for the empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.
Whiteread was born in London and raised in the
Essexcountryside, until aged seven, when the family returned to London. She is the third of three sisters — the older two being identical twins.
Rachel Whiteread's mother,
Pat Whiteread, was also an artist. She died in 2003 aged 72, the death having a profound impact on Rachel's work. Her father was a geographyteacher, polytechnicadministrator and lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, who died when Whiteread was studying at art school in 1989. Rachel trained in paintingin BrightonPolytechnic, was briefly at the Cyprus College of Art, and later studied sculpture at London's Slade School of Art. For a time she worked in Highgate Cemeteryfixing lids back onto time-damaged coffins. She began to exhibit in 1987, with her first solo exhibition coming in 1988. She lives and works in a former synagoguein East Londonwith long-term partner and fellow sculptor Marcus Taylor. They have two sons. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1593080,00.html Boxing clever "The Guardian" October 16, 2005] ] [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,497037,00.html Some day, my plinth will come "The Guardian" May 27, 2001] ]
Many of Whiteread's works are casts of ordinary domestic objects and, in numerous cases, the space the objects "do not" inhabit (often termed the "negative space" — instead producing a solid cast of where the space within a container would be; particular parts of rooms, the area underneath furniture, for example. She says the casts carry "the residue of years and years of use".
Unlike many other
Young British Artists who often seem to welcome controversy, Whiteread has often said how uncomfortable she feels about it. On 24 May, 2004, a fire in a storage warehouse destroyed many works from the Saatchi collection, including, it is believed, some by Whiteread.
In 1990 she expanded on her earlier work with "Ghost", the first of her works to cast an entire living space and the first to bring her to the attention of the public and critics. Like her earlier works, it shows signs of a place having been lived in, with patches of
wallpaperand specks of colour from paint discernible on the walls. It is a cast of an entire room, and this motif was expanded in 1993 with "House". It was purchased by the dominant collector Charles Saatchi.
The critical response included:
"unquestionably the most resolved, substantial and satisfying use so far of the single idea that defines her career." [ [http://www.artnet.com/magazine_pre2000/features/cohen/cohen97-10-24.asp artnet.com Magazine Features - letter from london: sensation ] ]: — David Cohen, Artnet — reviewing the "Sensation" exhibition in 1997.
"Holocaust Monument" a.k.a. "Nameless Library" (2000)
Whiteread's casts often seem to emphasise the fact that the objects they represent are not themselves there, and critics have often regarded her work to be redolent of
deathand absence. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that she was asked by Austrian authorities to create a work in remembrance of Austrian Jews killed during the Holocaust. Due to political sensitivites and bureaucracy the process, from commission to unveiling, took five years. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1589344,00.html Still breaking the mould | | guardian.co.uk Arts ] ]
The work turned out to be "
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial" (2000; also known as "Nameless Library") and is located in the centre of the Judenplatzin Vienna. It is a work in cast concrete, with the walls made up of rows of books, with the pages, rather than the spines, turned outward; this can be regarded as a comment on Jews as a "people of the book" and the Nazi book burnings. [" [http://www.deutsche-bank-kunst.com/guggenheim/alt/17/english/ausstellung/index.htm Rachel Whiteread] ". Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.] On one of the walls is the negative cast of double-doors.
"Charity Box" (2007)
Whiteread created this small, plaster sculpture for a charity auction by the Prior Weston PTA, in support of the Prior Weston primary school in
The piece measures, a comparatively tiny, 16cm x 11.5cm x 11.5cm.
The box is reminiscent of those used in the tate Modern installation she created in 2005/6.
"Angel of the South" (2008)
She was one of the five artists shortlisted for the
Angel of the Southproject in January 2008.
In Whiteread's exhibition, "Rachel Whiteread: Bibliography,” she continued to explore the human traces left on ordinary objects. Whiteread exhibits an ongoing examination of the physical body’s contact with the space it occupies and the objects it comes across. In this exhibition, Whiteread investigates the concepts intrinsic to packing, storage and moving by casting cardboard boxes in plaster. [citation | title= Rachel Whiteread at Luhring Augustine | publisher=ARTINFO | year=2006 | date= February 17, 2006 | url=http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/11761/rachel-whiteread-at-luhring-augustine/ | accessdate=2008-04-23 ]
* [http://www.luhringaugustine.com/index.php?mode=artists&object_id=76 Luhring Augustine Gallery.]
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ArtistWorks?cgroupid=999999961&artistid=2319&page=1 Tate Collection — Rachel Whiteread]
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/whiteread/ Rachel Whiteread "Embankment" at Tate Modern, London, UK]
* [http://www.articite.com/fiches-wz/363.htm Rachel Whiteread on "articite.com"]
* [http://www.sculpture.org.uk/artists/RachelWhiteread Rachel Whiteread] at Sculpture.org.uk
* [http://www.artnet.com/awc/rachel-whiteread.html Rachel Whiteread catalogue in artnet's "Artist Works Catalogues"]
* [http://www.artnet.com/ag/fulltextsearch.asp?searchstring=Rachel%20Whiteread¤tCategory=Artwork More works from "artnet"]
* [http://www.deutsche-bank-kunst.com/guggenheim/alt/17/english/ausstellung/index.htm Rachel Whiteread — Transient Spaces at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin] .
**Archived material about an exhibition.
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/btseries/bb/rachelwhiteread/ Interactive video interview with Rachel Whiteread and interactive exploration of her work at the Tate Gallery.]
* [http://www.your-friend.info/vienna/cityguide.html#Holocaust-Memorial A video about the Holocaust Monument in Vienna, Austria]
* [http://flickr.com/photos/tags/rachel+whiteread/ Flickr photos tagged Rachel Whiteread]
October 15 2005link currently reveals photos of the installation of "Embankment" and a few pictures of earlier works.
* [http://flickr.com/photos/tags/judenplatz/ Flickr photos tagged Judenplatz]
October 17 2005link currently reveals photos of the monument.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/gallery/0,8542,1588934,00.html The Unilever Series of commissions at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall] — "
**Small online gallery of all six commissions to have filled the Turbine Hall thus far, including Whiteread's Embankment.
* [http://www.poloxygen.com/?direct=art&id=78 POL Oxygen gallery of her work]
* [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,497037,00.html Some day my plinth will come] — "
The Guardian", 27 May, 2001.
**Profile and interview through the time that "Untitled (Monument)" was being cast.
* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20010526/ai_n14383941 Arts:Rachel Whiteread] — "
The Independent", May 26, 2001.
**Another profile and interview through the time that "Untitled (Monument)" was being cast.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1589344,00.html Still breaking the mold] — "
The Guardian", October 11 2005.
**Profile and interview at the time of Embankment's unveling.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1593080,00.html Boxing clever] — "
The Guardian", October 16 2005.
**Profile and interview just prior to Embankment's unveling.
Desert Island Discs", BBC Radio 4, 26 February2006
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