Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Double Amber Bed), 1991. Rubber and high density foam, 119.4 x 137.2 x 104.1 cm), Collection of Gail and Tony Ganz, Los Angeles, Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.

Rachel Whiteread's Retrospective Diary of Sculptural Projects on Paper

Rachel Whiteread, Black and White Floor, 2001. White ink on black paper. 55 x 84 cm, Private Collection. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

Rachel Whiteread, Study (Blue) for “Floor”, 1992. Correction fluid, ink and watercolor on paper, 42 x 59.5 cm, Tate: Presented anonymously in memory of Adrian Ward-Jackson, 1994.

Rachel Whiteread, Vitrine Objects. Dimensions and Media variable. Private Collection. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mike Bruce.

Rachel Whiteread, Vitrine Objects. Dimensions and Media variable. Private Collection. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mike Bruce.


Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles
Rachel Whiteread Drawings

January 31-April 25, 2010

“My drawings are a diary of my work,” explains Rachel Whiteread, and like the passages in a diary her drawings range from fleeting ideas to labored reflections. They are produced independently of the sculpture yet are critical to her artistic practice and evoke similarly poignant notions of absence and presence. The exhibition is laid out chronologically and the sections relate thematically to Whiteread's principal sculptural projects such as Floors, Beds and Mattresses, House, Holocaust Memorial, Water Tower, and Trafalgar Square Plinth. The exhibition covers the full expanse of her career to date.

Hammer Museum presents a retrospective of drawings by Rachel Whiteread, the first large-scale museum survey of work on paper by the British artist. Organized by Allegra Pesenti, curator of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, this exhibition includes key examples of the artist’s sculpture displayed alongside her drawings. The exhibition features 155 drawings, 8 sculptures, and a vitrine filled with roughly 200 objects selected by Whiteread. Although her sculpture is well-known and widely published, Whiteread’s work on paper has remained largely behind the scenes.

“At the Hammer we have a particular interest in drawings and their key relationship to an artist’s practice and thought process. Rachel Whiteread’s drawings impart tremendous skill and sensitivity and offer another view of her complex and fascinating body of work,” comments Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin. “We are honored to work with Rachel and to organize the first museum exhibition that closely examines this relatively little known aspect of her artmaking.”

While her drawings are of a more intimate nature than the sculptures, they share a similar patina that is alternatively glossy, grainy, mottled, slippery, transparent, fragile, and bold. Whiteread uses thick glazes of correction fluid and acrylic, which often causes the paper to undulate and turns the drawings into three-dimensional objects. The colored background of graph paper is another distinctive characteristic of her drawings. Whiteread’s sculptures such as House and Bath capture the traces of other people’s lives, while the traces of her own hand are reserved for her drawings. She seizes memories in all her work, but in the drawings those captured moments are her own:

“With each drawing, I have an ability to recall where I did that drawing and the circumstance of its making,” she specifies. “It is as if the drawing absorbed the time of its making.”

“As a place where painting and sculpture meet,” says exhibition curator Allegra Pesenti, “drawing allows Whiteread to expand the boundaries between media. There is a sheer necessity of drawing in Whiteread’s practice. One medium seldom leads to another in her work, but rather her practices can morph — the drawings are as sculptural as the sculptures are graphic.”

Whiteread’s dedication to drawing began early in her career, in 1992-1993, during a pivotal artist’s residency in Berlin in which she developed central elements of her
sculpture and drawing practice. The result of this residency was the first and, until now, the last museum exhibition dedicated to her drawings. However, her work on paper has continued to evolve in the years since and remains a crucial aspect of her art. The importance of this practice and its parallel relation to Whiteread’s sculptural work are reflected in the layout of her current workspace where a dedicated drawing studio is detached from the sculpture studio. The exhibition explores the thematic connections between her sculptures and her drawings. Projects featured include House (1993) a monumental cast of a 19th-century terrace house in the East End of London for which she won Britain’s Turner Prize, the Water Tower (1998) which graced the skyline of downtown New York, Vienna’s Holocaust Memorial (2000), Monument (2001) created for the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, and Embankment (2005-2006) installed in the Tate Modern’s vast Turbine Hall.

Among the special features of the installation is a vitrine reminiscent of a “cabinet of curiosities” filled with objects selected by the artist. The found objects and souvenirs were gathered by Whiteread from various sources such as attics, thrift stores, and more recently eBay. She compares the objects to sketchbooks and, as such, they are central to her thought process and creative practice. The vitrine includes fossils, dental molds, a box of buttons, shoe forms, and other items together with small casts and works by the artist. A separate case will include a selection of work by Whiteread based on found postcards. As a group, these objects belong to Whiteread’s collection of captured memories and, ultimately, to her expanded notion of drawing.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 224-page, fully-illustrated catalogue with essays by exhibition curator Allegra Pesenti and Ann Gallagher, Head of Collections (British Art) at the Tate. The catalogue is published by the Hammer Museum and DelMonico Books, an imprint of Prestel Publishing. Retail price $50.

Rachel Whiteread Drawings travels to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, May 22-August 15, 2010; and to Tate Britain in London September 8, 2010-January 16, 2011.


Rachel Whiteread, Drawing for Water Tower VI, 1997. Varnish, ink, and pencil on graph paper, 84.1 x 59.1 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Purchase, 2000.

Rachel Whiteread (British, born in 1963), Study for Village – 1st, 2004, Ink, pencil and collage on paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, London, Photograph © Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

Rachel Whiteread, Remembrances of Places that Cannot be Named

Rachel Whiteread (British, born in 1963), Place (Village)¸ 2006-08, Doll houses, crates, boxes, wood, electrical fixtures, and fittings, and electricity, Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, London, Photograph © Mike Bruce, Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Rachel Whiteread (British, born in 1963), Untitled, 2006, Gouache, pencil and collage on paper, Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York, Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Rachel Whiteread

October 15, 2008-January 25, 2009

Haunting and yet familiar are the works of renowned sculptor Rachel Whiteread. Themes of absence and memory are embodied in her interpretations of everyday, domestic objects and their overlooked “negative” spaces — the interior of a closet, the section of a floor, or the hollow of a chair. An exploration of the artist’s innovative use of the unseen areas that complement an object’s identity is presented in Rachel Whiteread, Whiteread’s first solo museum show in the United States since the presentation of two sculptures in 2002 at the Guggenheim Museum, as well as the American premiere of her dramatic new installation Place (Village) (2006-2008, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery). The exhibition includes six additional sculptural pieces and 15 rarely seen drawings by the British contemporary artist. Rachel Whiteread is generously funded by The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, with additional support from the Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Fund, the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, anonymous donors, Irma Fisher Mann and The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation.

The highlight of Rachel Whiteread is an assemblage of approximately 200 vintage dollhouses — all hand-made in a variety of architectural styles and averaging three feet tall — which the artist collected during the past 20 years. Titled Place (Village), this sculptural interpretation evokes reminders of the past as preserved in a sprawling hillside “community” of quaint homes, each with its own story to tell. Assembled in a darkened room of the MFA’s Foster Gallery, the houses are lit from within, but deserted — their emptiness evoking haunting memories and melancholy.

The artist has been making sculpture primarily through casting — using plaster, rubber, resin, and sprayed concrete — ever since graduating from London's Slade School of Fine Art in 1987. Individual sculptures by Whiteread, displayed in an adjacent room of the MFA gallery, serve as counterpoint to the installation. A lighter palette sets the tone, as select examples of interior objects are presented, from an early floor piece in rubber and a cast of a door, to more recent “stacks” cast from the interiors of tattered boxes, suggesting deconstruction of comfort, home, and memory. These works include: Untitled (Amber Floor) (1993, Courtesy of Luhring Augustine, New York), a rubber cast of a floor section; Double-Doors II (A+B) (2006-2007, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery), two panels in plasticized plaster with interior aluminum framework; and Cabinet XI (2007, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery), a cast of a cabinet made out of metal and plaster. Rarely seen drawings from Whiteread’s career are also on view, as well as five created for Place (Village), which have never been exhibited. Drawings include: Study for Wax Floor (1992, Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York), a work in oil, crayon, correction fluid, felt-tipped pen and pencil on graph paper; Inside Upstairs (2004, Collection Tony and Gail Ganz, Los Angeles), a collage in gouache and pencil on paper; Study for House (1991, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery), a work in acrylic and correction fluid on graph paper; and Village I (2007, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery), a collage on paper made by Whiteread for her installation Place (Village).

Whiteread (b. 1963), the first woman to receive Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize (1993), is recognized internationally as one of the leading contemporary sculptors for her outstanding public works. The artist’s 1990 breakthrough piece, Ghost (formerly in the Saatchi Gallery and acquired in 2004 by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), is a plaster cast of a typical Victorian house such as the one in which she grew up, and her 1993 commission by Artangel, Trust, London, resulted in the ambitious and controversial House, made by casting the actual interior of a condemned East London flat that was later demolished by official decree. Other acclaimed public works include Water Tower Project (1998), with the Public Art Fund in New York; Holocaust Memorial (2000) in Judenplatz, Vienna; Monument, Fourth Plinth Project (2001), in Trafalgar Square London; and Embankment, presented in 2005 as the annual Unilever installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Rachel Whiteread (British, born in 1963), Place (Village)¸ 2006-08, Doll houses, crates, boxes, wood, electrical fixtures, and fittings, and electricity, Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, London, Photograph © Mike Bruce, Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Rachel Whiteread (British, born in 1963), Place (Village)¸ 2006-08, Doll houses, crates, boxes, wood, electrical fixtures, and fittings, and electricity, Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, London, Photograph © Mike Bruce, Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.