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 Gallery 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.
Rachel Whiteread was born in London in 1963. She studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic from 1982-1985 and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1985-1987. She won the Turner Prize in 1993. Her work has been exhibited internationally in many solo and group exhibitions including the British Pavilion at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997), the Serpentine Gallery, London (2001), Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2001), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2005), MADRE, Naples (2007), MFA Boston (2009) and The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010). Notable public commissions include House (1993), Water Tower (New York, 1998), Monument (London, 2001), and Embankment at Tate Modern, 2005. In 1996 she received the controversial commission for Holocaust Memorial at the Judenplatz in Vienna, which she completed in 2000. Her traveling drawing retrospective opens at Tate Britain in September.
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.
An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019
The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher on its cover.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.
Rachel Whiteread’s US Embassy (Flat pack house) was unveiled in its permanent home at the new American embassy in Nine Elms, London, earlier this year. Virginia Shore, the curator for the London embassy project who worked with Whiteread to realize this site-specific commission, reflects on the history of prefabricated housing, the power of “home,” and the connecting force of art.