February 6, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art and Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Gallery announced that they have jointly acquired Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Domestic), 2002, an important example of the current oeuvre of this internationally prominent British artist.
Untitled (Domestic), which measures 266 x 230 x 96.5 inches, is cast from an interior staircase in the Haunch of Venison, a London-based gallery located in the three-storey, 18th-century building that was once the home of Admiral Lord Nelson. The work of art is currently on view at the Albright-Knox and will alternate annually between the two museums in the new partnership.
“This kind of collaboration, the first in our history, opens up many new opportunities for acquisitions in the future, said Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos. “Whiteread’s monumental sculpture is an excellent addition to our collection and reflects the Gallery’s commitment to acquiring large-scale sculpture by important contemporary artists. This partnership with Carnegie Museum of Art has made it possible for us to own an important Whiteread work, the first one in our collection.”
“A consistently inventive artist, Rachel Whiteread is known to Pittsburgh audiences through her participation in the 1995 Carnegie International, and the museum has good examples of her work in various media,” said Richard Armstrong, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art. “Untitled (Domestic) is a great and engaging monument, and is beautifully complemented here at Carnegie Museum of Art by the extensive plaster cast collection assembled by Andrew Carnegie 100 years ago.”
William E. Hunt, Board chairman, Carnegie Museum of Art added, “Carnegie Museum of Art is pleased to begin this special relationship with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery by collectively acquiring large sculpture. Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Domestic) is a perfect start for this partnership. Carnegie Museum of Art has long had a close connection with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and this collaboration helps make it even more tangible and mutually beneficial.”
Born in London, England, in 1963, Rachel Whiteread is known for casting everyday objects from her domestic environment. Chairs, tables, closets, bathtubs, and mattresses are among her early casts. Over time, the objects have become larger. In 1993, Whiteread made House, a cast of a condemned house in London’s East End, and for more than a decade, she has been interested in staircases. All along, her process of transforming negative space into positive form serves as a formal study of the relationship between humans and the space around them.
The materials used to create her sculptures, such as plaster, wax, and resin or other synthetic materials, are those traditionally associated with the constructions of the moulds themselves. Far from being perfect or “specific objects,” her sculptures are unique and irregular, with tactile, marked, and sometimes asymmetrical surfaces and shapes that record the character and history of the objects from which they came. Referring to rituals of life and death, her work presents complex notions of presence and absence, memory and loss, and the relationship of the body to forms in space.
Whiteread’s Untitled (One Hundred Spaces) was the work presented in the 1995 Carnegie International. The museum subsequently acquired her Untitled (Yellow Bath), 1996, a rubber and polystyrene sculpture cast from a bathtub. The museum also owns a number of works on paper by the artist, including a suite of five etchings, 12 screen prints, and an ink drawing.