Lot 126: Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)


October 23, 2005, 12:00 AM EST
London, United Kingdom
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Description: Untitled (Double)
plaster & polystyrene
each: 27 x 44 x 23 3/4 in. (68.5 x 111.8 x 60.5cm.)
Executed in 1998
Artist or Maker: Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)
Provenance: Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

"Whiteread's sculpture deals obliquely with social issues, but it is not social history, and making it work in sculptural terms is the principal aim. One can see that she is dependent upon the formal language of the 1960s American minimalist sculpture, and also acknowledges British sculpture of the previous generation." (Patrick Elliot, quoted in Rachel Whiteread, Serpentine Gallery, p. 10). Indeed, Whiteread's work continues a long tradition of British sculpture that can be traced back to Barbara Hepworth, and even more so to her immediate predecessors Tony Cragg and Bill Woodrow, whose use of discarded everyday objects Whiteread adopted and made her own, using hot water bottles, bathtubs, mattresses, chairs and tables, as in Untitled, 1998.

Whiteread's sculptures clearly share the architectural references of the American Minimalists Richard Serra, Carl Andre and Donald Judd, but unlike their industrially fabricated sculptures, Whiteread's works retain a distinctly human quality. Whiteread's choice of material, whether plaster, resin or rubber, lends her work a transparency and fragility that revels in the soft edge, and echoes the imperfect spaces created by traces of human life, rather than the machine-like precision used to create the objective and overwhelmingly masculine sculptures of Minimalism.

Untitled (Double) is a pivotal work from 1998 that exemplifies the key tenets of Whitereads's oeuvre. The negative cast of two tables, it is a ghostly yet solid memory of the central piece of furniture in any room. A table is a meeting point, where meals are shared, ideas exchanged and hundreds of conversations take place. Tomb-like, this cast of the negative space beneath it acknowledges the monumental importance of its presence while mourning its absence.

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London Contemporary

October 23, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom