Gagosian is pleased to present Detached, an exhibition of new sculpture by Rachel Whiteread. Her title calls by name the abstracting or distancing from reality that is an intrinsic part of the artistic process.
Whiteread’s sculpture is predicated on casting procedures, and the traces left on the sacrificial objects and spaces from which the final inverse form is derived. She casts from everyday objects as well as from the space beneath or around furniture and architecture, using single materials such as rubber, dental plaster, and resin to record every nuance. Detached 1, Detached 2, and Detached 3 (all 2012) figure the empty interior of a garden shed in concrete and steel. Cast from generic wooden sheds, the large-scale sculptures render negative space into solid form, and the prosaic into something fantastically disquieting. The sheds recall the monolithic architectural and site-specific works for which Whiteread first became renowned, such as Ghost (1990) and House (1993), and, most recently, the imposing concrete sculpture The Gran Boathouse (2010), installed on the water’s edge in the remote Nordic landscape of Røykenviken.
Circa 1665 (I) (2012), LOOK, LOOK, LOOK (2012), and Loom (2012) belong to a new series cast from doors and windows in delicate shades of rose, eau de Nil, or steely resin. In their watery thickness, the effects of changing light and shadow become implicit, subjective dimensions as the sculptures glow with absorbed and reflected light. Propped against or affixed to walls to mimic the serviceable object, the uncanny imitations—detached from their usual function—become repositories of memory and meaning, containing palpable traces of their individual pasts. Referring to large-scale, serial resin works such as Untitled (Floor) (1994) and One Hundred Spaces (1995), their translucent bulk at once objectifies and negates the minute detail and incident of otherwise invisible amplitudes.
Whiteread’s works on paper reveal the intention of the artist’s hand rather than the found histories of the sculptural work. Untitled (Amber) (2012) and Untitled (Green) (2012) are diminutive cardboard constructions mounted on graphite-marked notepaper, painted with silver leaf to form tiny, imperfect monuments complete with celluloid “windows” that refer to the resin sculptures. Similarly, the “mixografia” prints Squashed (2010) are richly textured renderings of found crushed tin cans. These organic constructions also reflect Whiteread’s preoccupations—presence and void, the textures of life and history, and the traces of human ubiquity. In three vitrines that share the title Some are abject objects (all 2013), found objects, sometimes extremely humble, are coupled with small casts and maquettes to provide a glimpse of her inspirations and studio processes.
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 upcoming 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.
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.
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
Rachel Whiteread: Detached is available for online reading from October 21 through November 19 as part of Artist Spotlight: Rachel Whiteread. Published on the occasion of the artist’s 2013 exhibition at Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, this catalogue features in situ images of Detached 1, Detached 2, and Detached 3 (all 2012), along with documentary photographs of the works in progress. Also included are vitrines incorporating found objects, small casts, and maquettes; a series of resin sculptures, cast from doors and windows, in delicate hues such as rose and eau de Nil; and works on paper. A text by Briony Fer examines the materiality of Whiteread’s work.
Rachel Whiteread: Detached (London: Gagosian, 2013)