Rachel Whiteread's first UK public commission announced

  • 9 February 2012

The Art Fund is supporting a new commission by Rachel Whiteread for the facade of East London's Whitechapel Gallery...

The Art Fund is supporting a major new commission by Rachel Whiteread for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery. The work, which will cover the front of the building in golden leaves, will be the East Londoner's first permanent public sculpture in the United Kingdom.

The commission

Whiteread's sculpture is planned for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery, a Grade II listed building dating from 1901. The façade was originally planned to feature a frieze embodying the Gallery's public message - to bring great art to the people of London - but this was never realised.

The Tree of Life motif featured on the gallery's building has provided the inspiration for Whiteread's commission, embellishing the façade with dozens of individually-crafted golden leaves to create a powerful decorative scheme.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, commented: “The Art Fund has long had a reputation for supporting contemporary as well as historic art and we are delighted to be the major funder of this significant commission by one of the world’s foremost sculptors. It is an important moment in the history of the Whitechapel Gallery.”

The artist

British sculptor Rachel Whiteread is best known for her casts of the 'negative spaces' of buildings, rooms and spaces. Her 1990 sculpture Ghost cast an entire room from a house in the East End of London in negative, with features such as the fireplace and door handles appearing as indentations. A later work, House, did the same with an entire Victorian building.

Whiteread's ability to make absences tangible have led many to associate her work with death and loss, leading to her commision for the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna. She won the Turner Prize in 1993, and was the third artist to create a sculpture for Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

Other works we've helped commission

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