Rachel Whiteread

(b. 1963)

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(b London, 20 Apr. 1963).

British sculptor. In 1988 she began making a novel type of sculpture consisting of casts of domestic features or the spaces around them (such as the space under a bed). These pieces, carrying ‘the residue of years and years of use’ culminated in Untitled (House) (1993), a concrete cast of an entire house in Grove Road in the East End of London. The house itself was demolished once the cast was made, leaving Whiteread's ghostly replica on the site. It helped win her the Turner Prize in 1993 and attracted so much attention that it made her for a time probably the most famous artist in Britain apart from Damien Hirst (although, unlike Hirst, she does not court publicity). The Turner jury praised the work for ‘its combination of austere monumentality and immediacy of reference to the everyday world’, its ‘haunting qualities’ and its ‘poetic strangeness’. Many people, however, regarded it as an ugly lump of concrete, and in spite of a vigorous campaign to save it, the work was demolished in 1994. Following her success as the first woman to win the Turner Prize, in 1997 Whiteread became the first woman to represent Britain with a solo show at the Venice Biennale (Barbara Hepworth in 1950 and Bridget Riley in 1968 had shared the British Pavilion). In 2000 her memorial to Austrian Jews killed by the Nazis was installed in the Judenplatz, Vienna.

Subjects: Art.

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