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Rachel Whiteread Drawings

August 11, 2010 by Kay

May 22 – August 15, 2010

The Nasher Sculpture Center is pleased to present the first museum retrospective of drawings by contemporary British artist Rachel Whiteread.  Featuring over 125 drawings and collages selected from the artist’s studio, as well as from leading public and private collections in Europe and the United States, the exhibition brings to the fore a rarely seen aspect of Whiteread’s work.

"We are pleased to welcome Rachel Whiteread to the Nasher Sculpture Center. This will be the first major exhibition at the Nasher of an artist not represented in our collection," said Director Jeremy Strick. "Ms. Whiteread is one of the most significant artists of our time, and this exhibition reveals a little-known but exceptionally beautiful aspect of her work."

Drawing for Water Tower I, 1997 Pencil with cut-and-pasted color photocopy, varnish and ink on graph paper 33 1/8 x 23 1/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase 2000.

While her sculpture is well known and widely published, Whiteread's work on paper has remained largely behind the scenes. "My drawings are a diary of my work," she explains, and like the passages in a diary her drawings range from fleeting ideas to labored reflections. Variegated textures, subtle nuances of tone over colored graph paper, and the play of imagery in collaged constructions are some of the distinctive characteristics of Whiteread's works on paper. A crucial aspect of her artistic practice, they are produced independently of the sculpture yet evoke similarly poignant notions of presence and absence.

Untitled, 2005 Postcard with punched holes 4 x 6 in. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, London Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

In this exhibition, Whiteread's drawings will be accompanied by key examples of her sculptural work. While her drawings are of a more intimate nature than the sculptures, they share a similar patina that is alternatively glossy, grainy, mottled, slippery, transparent, fragile, and bold. Whiteread uses thick glazes of correction fluid and acrylic, which often causes the paper to undulate and turns the drawings into three-dimensional objects. Whiteread’s sculptures capture the traces of other people’s lives, while the traces of her own hand are reserved for her drawings. She seizes memories in all her work, but in the drawings those captured moments are her own: “With each drawing, I have an ability to recall where I did that drawing and the circumstance of its making,” she specifies. “It is as if the drawing absorbed the time of its making.”

Among the special features of the installation is a vitrine of objects selected by Whiteread. Works by the artist are juxtaposed with items gathered from various sources, such as attics and thrift stores, or found on walks and travels. Fossils, a dental mold, a tin votive, buttons and shoe lasts are just some of the objects that belong to Whiteread's collection of captured memories, and thus to her extended notion of drawing.

Study for Wax Floor, 1992 Oil crayon, correction fluid, felt tip pen and pencil on graph paper 18 x 12 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York Purchased with funds given by Barbara G. Pine, 1997

Rachel Whiteread Drawings comes to the Nasher Sculpture Center from the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and will travel on to Tate Britain.  The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 224-page catalogue with essays by exhibition curator Allegra Pesenti and Ann Gallagher, Head of Collections (British Art) at the Tate. The catalogue is published by the Hammer Museum and DelMonico Books, an imprint of Prestel Publishing.

Rachel Whiteread Drawings was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. This exhibition is generously supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.  Additional support is provided by Gail and Stanley Hollander, the Southern California Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Henry Moore Foundation, the British Council, and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. The catalogue is made possible, in part, by the Contemporary Collectors - Orange County.

All artworks © Rachel Whiteread