Artist Research: Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread is an english artist, born 20th April 1963, who primarily created sculptures most of her work and he most famous pieces of art are casts. She studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art.  Whiteread is one of the young British Artists, and exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997.

Whiteread uses traditional casting methods but instead of using it as a traditional material for sculpting, she fills in the empty spaces of objects and things that aren’t supposed to be a container such as houses, stairs, chairs, tables, rooms etc. Her art captures elements of everyday objects in a light that is very unusual and weird. She says that her casts “carry the residue of years and years of use”.  For her art she mainly fills in all the negative space of an object with either concrete, rubber, plaster and some other colorful resin materials and polyester.

Her work is mostly based on childhood memories which are sometimes quite sad which add to the nostalgic emotions of her work. For example while she was still working at the Slade she created a piece of work called “Closet”. She made a plaster cast of the interior of a wardrobe and then covered it in black felt. the whole point of the cast was to represent the times she used to hide when she was a child. When you think about its a sad and depressing thought that she had to hide away in a closet to escape from reality, but on the other hand it could be soothing for her as its the place that she goes to relax and escape from whatever she was hiding from. So I think that this specific cast would appeal to anybody that shares those same or similar emotions that Rachel Whiteread when they were a child, giving them that nostalgia effect.

Whiteread has made various pieces of art throughout her life but her most famous ones including:


Untitled “Mattress”-1991


“untitled “room”-1993

untitled “paperbacks”-1997

“Water Tower”-1998



“One Hundred Spaces”-1995

To me Rachel Whitbread’s work is quite creepy and surreal because her work is casts of things that shouldn’t be filled in. The casts show the objects that she does in a different light because its a very original and a weird way of viewing objects. The casts.

When i first saw Whiteread’s “house” piece i didn’t really know what to feel because it was so unusual, if anything it gives of a sad feeling because its showing everything that is empty in a house and its quite overwhelming to see how much negative space there actually is in a house. The house is literally the ghost of what the house used to be which makes me feel sad because its not the same as before. its also really dull and depressing the way that the whole thing no longer looks like a house and now looks like something much more sinister like a prison or an asylum now that the windows are filled in and it now just feels like a box.


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