A lot of the works that I’ve been making over the years have been part of a cyclical process. Things have happened, things branch off, things crop up that I haven’t thought about. I often feel a cycle is incomplete and need to tread the same path again. I’ve been teaching myself a language for the past fifteen years, and the utilization of that language can take on many forms.
Gagosian is pleased to present drawings and a new sculpture by Rachel Whiteread.
This is the latest in a new series of sculptures for outdoor spaces in which Whiteread has substituted robust materials such as stone and concrete for the more fragile plaster, rubber, and resin of many of her best-known works. It comprises five approximately cubic forms of varying size and surface texture, arranged in a straight line. Small linear cutouts disrupt the otherwise smooth surface of each cube. Given that the work is intended for an outdoor space, changing light and shadow becomes another implicit and highly subjective dimension in the work. Two such commissions have been completed to date—in Stockholm, Sweden, and Dallas, Texas—and in subsequent works Whiteread is continuing to develop and refine her forms and use of media.
Using various materials to articulate the negative space surrounding or contained by objects, Whiteread has elaborated various approaches to casting and impression as subject, process, and vehicle for content. Her daily practice is based on a persistent duality: a pragmatic approach to the materials and making of art coupled with a fascination for the psychologically charged associations and traces of human contact borne by and embedded in objects and environments.
In her working process, Whiteread continually cycles back on her own history, renewing her established vocabulary with fresh information, forms, and materials. Moving away from more literal sculptures, such as Drill (2008) and Fell (2008), which are directly derived from everyday objects, her new five-part work revisits the ideas underpinning Untitled (100 Spaces) (1995), also a reference for the colorful drawing 50 Spaces (2010).
Whiteread’s frequent use of graph paper for her drawings recalls the notations of her Minimalist predecessors. Her forms, too, play off the geometry of the grid, but there are fundamental differences from the function-driven and emotional detachment of Minimalist drawings. For example, Dan Flavin’s graph paper drawings were empirical records of the components and colors of his installations whereas Whiteread’s are as much about evocation as representation and her choice of colored paper is as important as the drawing itself.
Augurs of Spring
As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.
Tom Eccles and Kiki Smith on Rachel Whiteread
On the occasion of Artist Spotlight: Rachel Whiteread, curator Tom Eccles and artist Kiki Smith speak about the work of Rachel Whiteread through the lens of their personal friendships with her. They discuss her public projects from the early 1990s to the present, the relationship between drawing and sculpture in her practice, and the way her works reveal the memories embedded in familiar everyday objects.
Rachel Whiteread and Ann Gallagher
Rachel Whiteread speaks to Ann Gallagher about a new group of resin sculptures for an exhibition at Gagosian in London. They discuss the works’ emphasis on surface texture, light, and reflection.
Rachel Whiteread on Piero della Francesca
Rachel Whiteread writes about the Italian artist’s Baptism of Christ (after 1437) and what has drawn her to this painting, from her first experience of it at a young age to the present day.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Shy Sculpture: Nissen Hut
Rachel Whiteread’s public sculpture Nissen Hut was unveiled in October 2018 in Yorkshire’s Dalby Forest. Curator Tamsin Dillon explores the dynamic history of these structures and provides a firsthand account of the steps leading up to the work’s premiere.
October 21–27, 2020
In Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures and drawings, everyday settings, objects, and surfaces are transformed into ghostly replicas that are eerily familiar. Through casting, she frees her subject matter—from beds, tables, and boxes to water towers and entire houses—from practical use, suggesting a new permanence, imbued with memory.
Photo: Anita Corbin, from the series First Women UK