Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread bigraphy, stories - British sculptor

Rachel Whiteread : biography

20 April 1963 –

Rachel Whiteread, CBE (born 20 April 1963) is an English artist who primarily produces sculptures, which typically take the form of casts. She won the annual Turner Prize in 1993 – the first woman to win the prize.

Whiteread is one of the Young British Artists, and exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997. Among her most renowned works are House, a large concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian house, and for her resin sculpture for the empty plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.


In Whiteread’s exhibition, "Rachel Whiteread: Bibliography,” she continued to explore the human traces left on ordinary objects. Whiteread exhibits an ongoing examination of the physical body’s contact with the space it occupies and the objects it comes across. In this exhibition, Whiteread investigates the concepts intrinsic to packing, storage and moving by casting cardboard boxes in plaster.

Early life

Whiteread was born in London and raised in the Essex countryside,Birth registered in Ilford Registration District in the second quarter of 1963. until age seven, when the family returned to London. Her mother, Patricia Whiteread (née Lancaster), who was also an artist, died in 2003 at the age of 72.Death registered in Tower Hamlets Registration District in December 2003. Her death had a profound impact on Rachel’s work. Her father, Thomas Whiteread, was a geography teacher, polytechnic administrator and lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, who died when Whiteread was studying at art school in 1988.Death registered in Islington Registration District in September 1988. She is the third of three sisters — the older two being identical twins.

Rachel trained in painting at the Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Brighton Polytechnic, was briefly at the Cyprus College of Art, and later studied sculpture at Slade School of Art, University College, London. For a time she worked in Highgate Cemetery fixing lids back onto time-damaged coffins. She began to exhibit in 1987, with her first solo exhibition coming in 1988. She lives and works in a former synagogue in east London with long-term partner and fellow sculptor Marcus Taylor. They have two sons.


Many of Whiteread’s works are casts of ordinary domestic objects and, in numerous cases, the space the objects do not inhabit (often termed the "negative space") — instead producing a solid cast of where the space within a container would be; particular parts of rooms, the area underneath furniture, for example. She says the casts carry "the residue of years and years of use". Whiteread mainly focuses on the line and the form for her pieces.

Unlike many other Young British Artists who often seem to welcome controversy, Whiteread has often said how uncomfortable she feels about it. On 24 May 2004, a fire in a storage warehouse destroyed many works from the Saatchi collection, including, it is believed, some by Whiteread. http://www.artforum.com/talkback/id=62792.htm while others have taken parts of her sculpture away, with some of them even ending up on e-bay.http://www.theaoi.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1793&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30 –>

Ghost (1990)

In 1990, she expanded on her earlier work with Ghost, the first of her works to cast an entire living space and the first to bring her to the attention of the public and critics. Like her earlier works, it shows signs of a place having been lived in, with patches of wallpaper and specks of colour from paint discernible on the walls. It is a cast of an entire room from the Archway Road in London. The "Ghost" is one of her most popular art works.

It was first exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery in Bow, east London, in 1990. It was later purchased by the collector Charles Saatchi. The work was subsequently acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The critical response included:

"unquestionably the most resolved, substantial and satisfying use so far of the single idea that defines her career."