Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)

Untitled (Floor)

Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)
Untitled (Floor)
9 x 110 3/8 x 234in. (23 x 280.5 x 594.5cm.)
Executed in 1992, this work is unique
Karsten Schubert Ltd., London.
Private Collection, Switzerland.
Private Collection, London.
A. Gallagher (ed.), Rachel Whiteread, British Pavilion, XLVII Venice Biennale, exh. cat., Venice, 1997 (illustrated, p. 61).
C. Mullins, Rachel Whiteread, London 2004 (illustrated in colour, p. 44; detail illustrated in colour, p. 45).
A. Gallagher and M. Donovan (eds), Rachel Whiteread, exh. cat., London, Tate Britain, 2017-2018 (illustrated in colour, p. 14).
Kassel, Documenta '92, 1992.
New York, Luhring Augustine Gallery, Rachel Whiteread: Plaster Sculptures, 1993, p. 46 (illustrated, p. 47). This exhibition later travelled to London, Karsten Schubert Ltd.
Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, Rachel Whiteread, 1994-1995, pp. 29 & 48 (illustrated in colour, p. 49). This exhibition later travelled to Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art.
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie International 1995, 1995.
Liverpool, Tate Gallery, Rachel Whiteread: Shedding Life, 1996-1997, p, 108, no. 10 (illustrated in colour, pp. 42-43; fabrication process illustrated in colour, p. 22). This exhibition later travelled to Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Palacio de Velázquez.
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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

‘ I always use the word “physiologically” because I think it’s something psychological, but also something to do with the body – how you use space, how space is connected, how you sit on a chair and put your legs under a table.’
– Rachel Whiteread

Debuted at Documenta ’92 in Kassel, Untitled (Floor) is a striking large-scale sculpture by Rachel Whiteread that exemplifies her poetic engagement with the objects that scaffold our daily lives. The work consists of eight long, low blocks of plaster, arranged to loosely replicate an irregular area of flooring around 6.2 x 2.8 metres in size. Whiteread’s negative spaces ask us to re-examine – or sometimes to examine for the first time – the things and surfaces that we all interact with every day. She has cast the spaces between books, beneath chairs, and inside mattresses, hot water bottles and bathtubs. Following Documenta ’92, where Untitled (Floor) was showcased alongside the work of many of her Young British Artist peers, her major public commission House (1993) saw her cast the entire interior of a three-storey home; that same year, Whiteread became the first woman to win the Tate Gallery’s prestigious annual Turner Prize. In the present work, she reveals the essence of a wooden floor. The casting process reverses depressions into protrusions, creating a gently unsettling ‘ghost’ of the familiar. Evocative of tomb or memorial, the white plaster monumentalises a humble surface to which we normally pay very little attention, while also bringing into relief the wood’s cracks, grain and imperfections. We are made sharply aware of the support beneath us that we take for granted. Although as rigorous as all of her sculptures, which echo the reductive visual language of Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre and Donald Judd, Untitled (Floor) is born not of austere formalism but rather of a haunting sense of narrative, emotion and memory. We interact with the seemingly banal objects and spaces of our homes in meaningful, personal ways: mattresses bear the marks of passion and illness; a floor carries the intimate traces of our daily paths and rituals, becoming invisibly inscribed with the passing of time and the passage of bodies. Whiteread opens our eyes to our own world, animating the quotidian with an elegiac sense of wonder and mystery.

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