Friday, April 16, 2010

Rachel Whiteread

I went to see the Rachel Whiteread exhibit at the Hammer museum located on the UCLA campus. The above image is from a review of Whiteread's work in the Los Angeles Times, which explains, "As a sculptor, Rachel Whiteread has pretty much taken a single, elegant idea and turned it around and around in innumerable ways."

Whiteread is probably best known for her casts, specifically Ghost which is a cast of the inside of a Victorian house. The above image of Ghost is from the National Gallery of Art website.

Whitread is a conceptual artist whose drawings appear to be simplistic but on observation evoke a lot of thought. Regarding the above image (which is from the Hammer website), the description in the exhibit explains, "The door is a home's primary threshold and allows physical access to its interior spaces, the windows are its lungs, the doorknob its handshake, and the switches give it life." Like Ghost, a common theme in this exhibit is the evocation of echos from the past. Many of her drawings remind us of the spaces we inhabit and what has been there before us. There is a loneliness to the single drawings and sculptures, some of them literally looking like sarcophagi or tombs. The drawings reflect her sculpture in the sense that she often uses collage or architectural blueprints in her drawings.
The Hammer's description of Whiteread's work explains of her drawings, "[They are] a crucial aspect of her artistic practice, they are produced independently of the sculpture yet evoke similarly poignant notions of presence and absence." In fact, Whiteread often draws with white correction fluid, making positive marks with a substance that usually is meant to erase or create negative space, thus further reminding us of ghosts or absences.

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