Feature

Rachel Whiteread Drawings

UCLA's Hammer Museum is showing over 120 of the artist's rarely seen works on paper.

UCLA Hammer Museum, Los AngelesThrough April 25

“Best known for her monumental sculptures and public art projects,” British sculptor Rachel Whiteread has rarely exhibited many of her drawings, said Brooke Hodge in NYTimes.com. Her most famous works are three-dimensional casts of the “negative” space defined by familiar objects. Ghost (1990), for instance, shows the interior shape of a room as a three-dimensional block of plaster. Whiteread says she “thinks of her drawings as a diary of her work.” Still, only a few in the new exhibition at the Hammer seem like preparatory sketches for actual sculptures. Instead, they are connected in theme, and they similarly “evoke absence and presence while capturing memories and traces of time.”

Whiteread’s sculptures share a “sense of mutability—of inconstancy and inescapable, unremitting change,” said Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times. Summoning empty space into shimmering form, she creates objects that are both appealing and “vaguely unsettling.” The best of her drawings similarly lend a numinous aura to everyday objects such as doors, windows, light switches, and keyholes. Oftentimes, the visual interest comes not from her rather perfunctory graphic style—“we’re not talking Rembrandt here”—but from the pale washes of correction fluid, varnish, and resin she applies as the final step. This show is a must-see, if only as a means of getting inside the mind of one of our most promising sculptors. I just wish it weren’t quite so large—looking at more than 120 drawings from an artist who’s still just 46 seems like “too much of a good thing.”

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