The artist Rachel Whiteread creates elegant and poetic sculptures which explore architecture, space, absence and memory. Often inspired by the physicality of the human body, her works are poignant for their exploration of intimate domestic spaces and household objects. Whiteread typically uses industrial materials such as plaster, resin and rubber to cast the negative space surrounding or within an object - the murky darkness beneath a bed frame, the void within a humble cardboard box, the space in and around a myriad collection of books. The resulting sculptures retain the texture and shape of the original objects, yet are eerie ghosts of their former selves.
Whiteread is perhaps best known for several large-scale public commissions such as House, a sculpture cast from the interior of a condemned Victorian house in London’ s East End, Water Tower, a resin cast of the water towers ubiquitous to the New York City skyline, Monument, an inverted pedestal placed upon an empty plinth in Trafalgar Square and the Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, an impenetrable library of books turned inwards in commemoration of the thousands of Austrian Jews who perished during World War II. Like her smaller sculptures, these monumental works are distinguished by their minimalist sensibility and their capacity to evoke stillness and contemplation. Whiteread has recently been commissioned to create a frieze for the historic façade of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Scheduled to debut in June 2012, this work represents her first permanent public commission in the United Kingdom.
Rachel Whiteread has a long list of international distinctions which include winning the 1993 Turner Prize for House, representing Great Britain in the 1997 Venice Biennale and presenting solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as the Kunsthalle Basel, the Reina Sofia, The Serpentine Gallery and the Deutsche Guggenheim. Her work is housed in museums and private collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Tate Modern, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The artist lives and works in London, England.