Rachel Whiteread is one of the preeminent sculptors of her generation. Her practice is defined by an ongoing investigation of domestic architecture and the traces of humanity impressed upon such sites. She casts the spaces inside and around objects – be they bathtubs or mattresses, architectural elements such as doors, floors and windows, or even entire buildings – and uses materials such as resin, rubber, concrete, and plaster to preserve each surface detail. The resulting sculptures are remarkably faithful to their source molds, but also uncannily foreign in that they represent an inverse of the original object and require a constant reorientation of perception. Absence is made present, interior becomes exterior, and the invisible is rendered visible.
Whiteread is 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. These monumental works are distinguished by their poetic minimalism and their capacity to evoke stillness and contemplation. Her most recent commissions include The Tree of Life, a frieze for the historic façade of the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2012, and Cabin, a permanent public sculpture for Governors Island, New York in 2016.
Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963) was born in London, England where she currently lives and works. She studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. Whiteread won the Turner Prize for her public sculpture House (1993) and represented Great Britain at the 1997 Venice Biennale. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel, the Reina Sofia, the Serpentine Gallery, and the Deutsche Guggenheim, among others. Her works are in several prestigious collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Tate, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Most recently, a major retrospective exhibition of Whiteread's work debuted at Tate Britain in the fall of 2017, and traveled to the 21er Haus, in Vienna and the National Gallery in Washington D.C. in 2018, as well as the St. Louis Art Museum in 2019. In 2019 Rachel Whiteread was awarded a damehood for services to art as a part of The Queen’s Birthday Honors List, which awards people across the United Kingdom for outstanding achievements.