Rachel Whiteread

15 Jul

Rachel Whiteread’s work focuses on loss and memory. In her sculptures, Whiteread recalls the object through its negative space. She uses domestic objects such as a sink, bath, one hundred chairs and even an entire room from a Victorian house. With this imprint, she creates a relic of what was lost, and suddenly private spaces became public through the medium of the gallery. Her work pin-points society’s obsession with exposing private matters publicly, usually through media and what would be considered ‘low’ forms of entertainment: tabloid papers and gossip magazines. Her work became popular and she won the Turner Prize in 1993, but since then her work has not varied in its approach.

The fundamental factor that enraged critics such as Julian Stallabrass was that this art was readable by those outside the jargon of art history appreciation. If as Ruskin, Morris and Pugin suggested in their writings that culture was a merging of society and art, what does this exhibition show about today’s culture? The idea that culture should be accessible to everyone was symptomatic of the New Labour society Sensation was created in.

Since the rise of social media networking sites, weekly magazines and blogs we are all more aware of what is going on with the people who interest us. The Tate has experienced a phenomenal rise in visitor figures and some artists are recognised household names. I admit that I’m interested in what’s on the other side of that unopened door. What Rachel Whiteread did was show us.


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