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Los Angeles
Rachel Whiteread
Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024
January 31, 2010 - April 25, 2010

Whiteread at the Hammer
by Marcus Civin





British-artist Rachel Whiteread’s postmodernism is deadpan realism, a return to a classical sculpture technique—casting—casting, not things, but the space under things, a contemplation of forgotten space around, under, and inside. In forming, naming, and repeating these blocky underneath spaces, setting nothingness in plaster and resin, Whiteread re-organizes our experience so that the space around a bathtub for example, appears, while the bathtub itself disappears. The space around the bathtub remembers the disappeared bathtub, but this new space stands on its own, surprising and delightful—previously invisible stability and unrecognized support.
Whiteread 22
Whiteread’s simple, restrained diagrammatic drawings whisper some slight, neat material flourishes but self-consciously exhibit only mute echoes of the magic of her sculptures. There are some exceptions: a spiral of quarter inch cuts of white tape on paper, an unexpected study for a Holocaust memorial, for instance. I respond to the insertion in a room of bathtubs of a black-and-white drawing that seems to suggest a coffin—coffin and bathtub, both structures that measure the body; a bath as submersion is a kind of burial. Exhibited with her sculptures, Whiteread’s drawings threaten to mute the force of Whiteread’s project as a whole, potentially tipping this significant and stirring investigation from the deliberate unearthing of evidence to a general and free-floating contemplation, a mushy psychological theater, open to any personal projections. Whiteread’s sculptures gracefully map and invert, discovering a trace of rust from the previously hidden bottom of a tub, here on what is now the exposed surface of a sculpture, a slight bump extruding there, a bump that had previously been an intrusion. Whiteread’s drawings, on the other hand, feel pre-figured, sketched and colored in, just doors, not portals.

I think Whiteread could let go with her drawings, let in some mess. It would be wonderful to see discovered, weathered, violent-if-necessary or dancing drawings that would defy easy classification—drawings of comparable artistry to Whiteread’s sculptures.

- Marcus Civin

Posted by Marcus Civin on 3/29/10

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Promo_portrait_72dpi a bit of polemica
First of all, nice article. Second, well with all respect I do not see the point of Rachel Whiteread's sculptures. It all sounds cool in words but the actual work in my opinion does not give any new insight about anything. The bathtub is no more than the shape of another bathtub. I was lately in front of one of her sculptures , the mold for a table, and felt almost angry, it is just a pointless prank, in the case of the houses it is an expensive one. I suppose her writings are very interesting

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