Tate Curator, Linsey Young, explores the work of Rachel Whiteread, one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists and the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993. Using industrial materials such as plaster, concrete, resin, rubber and metal to cast everyday objects and architectural space, her evocative sculptures range from the intimate to the monumental. Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain runs from the 12 September 2017 until 21 January 2018.
Rachel Whiteread was born in London in 1963. She studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. Whiteread is one of the few artists of her generation to have produced important public sculptures, some of which have achieved a monumental status and significance.Ghost, her breakthrough piece from 1990, is a plaster cast of a living room, modelled on a typical Victorian terraced house in north London, similar to the one in which the artist grew up. In its melancholic beauty, Ghost is a resonant monument both to the individuals who once occupied this room, and to our collective memories of home.
Whiteread represented the UK at the 1997 Venice Biennale and created Monument for the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2001. One of her most recent solo exhibitions, Walls, Doors, Floors and Stairs at Kunsthaus Bregenz in late spring 2005, where Untitled (Room 101) 2003 was on display, was dedicated to the house as the central theme of her work. Whiteread was awarded the Turner Prize in 1993 just after creating House (1993; destroyed 1994), a life-sized replica of the interior of a condemned terraced house in London’s East End made by spraying liquid concrete into the building’s empty shell before its external walls were removed. Whiteread’s winning proposal for the Holocaust memorial for the Judenplatz in Vienna was one of the most prestigious sculptural commissions in Europe in the 1990s, and involved placing the cast interior of a library, including the imprint of books, in the centre of the square. It was unveiled in October 2000.
Whiteread lives and works in London and her work is represented in many private and public collections worldwide.