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A Critique of Rachel Whiteread's Artistic Works

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Rachel Whiteread is an artist who makes sculptures and uses plaster, concrete, resin, rubber, and other industrial materials to create an interior mold of everyday objects. She has done intimate, monumental pieces and anything in between. Whiteread was born in East London and studied sculptures and the Slade School of Art in London. Her work has taken a distinct view of London and the politics of development, life, and organization in the city. Untitled (House) was used as a way to counter the threat sent to old London houses by campaigns of modernizing and development. There is also a socio-political dimension of the work as it was said “ludicrous policy of knocking down homes like this and building badly designed tower blocks which themselves have to be knocked down after 20 years”

Whiteread used the negative space of ordinary objects to create her casts. She would use the open space around the object as well as inside, the focus of the work are the lines, and the form that the objects possess. She essentially flips the object inside out. In her work Untitled (Book Corridors) just like all her work – is a set of books on shelves. Even though there are no books or shelves, it’s the invisible space that Whiteread truly focuses on. In another one of her sculptures Nameless Library (2000) there are countless copies of books and the spines are flipped, she is conveying feelings of myriad and loss. In her other works of art such as hospital beds/mattresses, she is commemorating the moments of life and death. All of her work shows emotion, memory, and grim characteristics even though they are minimalistic. The objects that are casted have physical and intimate relationship to the frame even with their simple appearance. All her projects have a reference point, and it all typically leads to people, and due to the life that the objects have before Whiteread uses them; they all have history.

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Whitereads work of art appears to be straightforward initially, but sculptures always have deeper stories to tell. She tricks her audience into thinking her sculptures are something that they aren’t. Whitereads, Line Up, looks like a line of paper rolls but is made out of resin, wood, and plaster. You need to take a closer look and truly appreciate the material that are used and the stories behind the sculptures. The intention of Whitereds sculptures is to show the eerie beauty of what we cannot see and so that we can truly appreciate all aspects of these objects because we can now see the beauty that was on the inside and outside. This beauty can coexist with what Kant said, as Whiteread shows the perfection of the objects, and once we can appreciate everything the ability to see the objects shell, and now to be able to see what is unseen and to appreciate the story behind the object and have all three in equilibrium, the artwork has reached its perfection goal and that is the beauty of it.


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