Airport, please! Gagosian London reopens an extraordinary exhibit by Rachel Whiteread
We’ve taken digital gallery hopping for granted, looking online at a great many exhibitions instead of seeing them in person and telling ourselves we “saw” the show. A familiarity with the theme of an exhibit, a new direction a familiar artist is exploring, seemed to suffice. Now that we have been so long deprived from an easy access to museums and galleries, the level of anticipation of viewing works in person is truly appreciated. Long may this last, a renewed appreciation of seeing contemporary shows in person and a significant increase in the very old habit of spending a day on the Lower East Side or Chelsea, or Mayfair or the Marais.
This week, London galleries have reopened from the pandemic quarantine with some extraordinary exhibitions. Airport, please! First stop, Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects, at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill. At last, a lockdown masterpiece, says The Guardian, in a recent article by Jonathan Jones reviewing the exhibition in London. As many of us have struggled with metaphorical ghosts in the loneliness and unease of lockdown, Rachel Whiteread has confronted her Ghost, a work she created in 1990, an icon of a new approach to sculpture, purchased by collector Charles Saatchi. Whiteread is celebrated for her ability to poetically capture the memory of a space.
In Internal Objects, Whiteread had revisited this early work during the lockdown, creating two remarkable new works, Poltergeist and Doppelganger. These works were not cast but assembled, two derelict exploding structures, shattered and abandoned, unified by being painted overall in a pure white.
The Guardian, Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects.
Dame Rachel Whiteread (born 20 April 1963) is an English artist who primarily produces sculptures, which typically take the form of casts. She was the first woman to win the annual Turner Prize in 1993.
Whiteread was one of the Young British Artists who exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997. Among her most renowned works are House, a large concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian house; the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, resembling the shelves of a library with the pages turned outwards; and Untitled Monument, her resin sculpture for the empty fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.
She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to art.
Bio, Tate Modern
Ghost (1990) was Whiteread’s first large-scale sculpture and set in motion the ambitious, architecturally scaled works for which she is widely recognized today. Made by filling a room of a Victorian house in North London with concrete to create a solid cast that picks up the details of the walls, mantle, and windows, Ghost is a positive room-sized object that reveals itself gradually, as one encircles the huge form. Whiteread expanded on this working method in House (1993; destroyed 1994), cast from an entire Victorian terrace house. Whiteread created this work after all the other terraces in the row had been demolished, and it stood alone as a reminder of the working-class homes that once spanned the street. The sculpture sparked heated debates around issues of real estate, class divisions, and urban sprawl.
Gagosian Gallery, artist biography
20 GROSVENOR HILL, GAGOSIAN GALLERY, Mayfair London
20 Grosvenor Hill has transformed a dated office building into a striking double height, day-lit gallery space. The entire 21,800 sq ft development has been let to the globally renowned Gagosian Gallery.
British architects TateHindle designed the exterior of the building replacing the old 1990s façade with handmade Roman bricks in a blue-grey palette. The design achieves a contemporary feel while also complementing the building’s historical context.
Award-winning architecture practice Caruso St. John created the interior scheme having previously designed galleries for Gagosian in Rome and Paris.
Grosvenor Hill and the surrounding area has been associated with the arts since the 1870s when Sir Coutts Lindsay opened the Grosvenor Gallery. Gagosian Gallery at 20 Grosvenor Hill builds on this rich heritage.