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Saint Louis Art Museum presents major retrospective of Rachel Whiteread's career
Rachel Whiteread, English, born 1963; “Untitled (Twenty-Five Spaces)”, 1995; resin; variable dimensions, smallest: 16 ½ x 11 x 11 ¼ inches, largest: 16 ½ x 18 1/8 x 20 1/8 inches; Private Collection; Image courtesy the artist/ Gagosian, London/ Luhring Augustine, New York/ Galleria Lorcan O’Neill.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Ranging in scale and effect from the monumental to the modest, Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures capture the rich human histories contained within familiar objects. The Saint Louis Art Museum is presenting the first comprehensive survey of the British sculptor’s work.

“Rachel Whiteread” includes 96 objects from throughout the artist’s 30-year career. The exhibition previously has been shown in London, Vienna and Washington, DC, where it has impressed visitors and critics alike. In a review of the recent presentation at National Gallery of Art, the Wall Street Journal described Whiteread as the “greatest living British artist.”

Since winning the United Kingdom’s coveted Turner Prize in 1993, Whiteread has received many honors and major commissions, including the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna. Her works have been shown extensively in museums around the world. In 2017, the Saint Louis Art Museum acquired Whiteread’s “Detached III,” a cast of the interior of a garden shed, which is on view on the museum’s southwest lawn.

“‘Detached III’ is a significant addition of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection of outdoor sculpture,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “This retrospective exhibition provides important context for that work by placing it within the highly conceptual approach of one of the greatest sculptors of our time.”

Whiteread is considered one of the Young British Artists, or YBAs, a group of artists who were working and exhibiting in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s that included Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Chris Ofili and others. In 1993, Whiteread became the first woman to receive the Turner Prize for “House,” a cast of the interior of a condemned Victorian terrace house in London’s East End.

In “House” and throughout her career, Whiteread has used the technique of casting the negative space around and within architecture, domestic objects and furniture. In preserving the traces of these objects, the sculptures memorialize the everyday experiences they embody. Building on the reductive aesthetics of 1960s minimalism, Whiteread charts new sculptural territory by adding layers of personal, historical and social meaning.

In addition to her sculptures, Whiteread is also an avid draftsperson. The exhibition will include a selection of sketches and preparatory drawings that demonstrate Whiteread’s wide-ranging artistic practice and illuminate her complex casting process.

The St. Louis presentation of the exhibition is curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art, and Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, with Molly Moog research assistant. The exhibition closes June 9.

“Rachel Whiteread” was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and Tate Britain, London, in association with the Saint Louis Art Museum. The exhibition is made possible in St. Louis by support from the E. Desmond Lee Family Endowment for Exhibitions. Additional funding is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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March 27, 2019

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