whiteread at whitechapel

10 February 2012 § Leave a comment

Bruce Nauman - The space beneath my chair

I have always been rather disappointed that Rachel Whiteread has been allowed to forge a career by simply copying an idea of  Bruce Nauman‘s from 1965 without any noticeable critical comment. I would have been much more impressed had she developed his idea much further and created something more as of course Nauman did with a truly impressive body of conceptual work.

Meanwhile, the Whitechapel gallery has just announced a commission by Whiteread for the building’s historic façade to be unveiled in June 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival. Perhaps the similarities of name inspired the gallery to select Whiteread perhaps?

The original plans for the Gallery included a frieze which was never realised leaving a large blank rectangle above the main entrance.  The Whitechapel states that “Whiteread has drawn her inspiration from the Tree of Life motif, which is part of the terracotta building, making casts from existing features to then create clusters of gilded leaves and branches….. Four negative casts of existing Gallery windows in terracotta will be located centrally within the recessed panel area between the towers, as a formal counterpoint to the leaf elements.”

Grudgingly I think it looks quite promising – the notion of the original terracotta motif ‘growing’ into a gold ornament being quite interesting – but I will reserve judgement until I see it in place!

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