Rachel Whiteread is the sixth artist to receive the prestigious annual Art Icon award, in partnership with Swarovski. The 2019 award will be presented at Whitechapel Gallery (London) on the 29th January, during a gala dinner hosted by Iwona Blazwick OBE – director of the gallery) and Swarovski.
This award celebrates the work of an artist who has made a profound contribution to contemporary art, influencing their own and subsequent generations of artists. Rachel Whiteread is being recognised for her transformation of everyday habitats and domestic objects into formally beautiful and richly metaphorical sculptures; and for her remarkable public monuments. From her Holocaust Memorial in Vienna to the gilded leaves she scattered across the Whitechapel Gallery’s façade, to the First World War Nissen hut she cast in a Yorkshire forest, she subtly transforms urban and rural contexts with her quiet yet psychically resonant sculptures.
The gallery’s annual Art Icon event is organised with support from the brand Swarovski, which has a longstanding commitment to the Gallery and to its programme.
We are delighted to continue our support of the Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon award, and to celebrate Rachel Whiteread’s inspirational body of work. Swarovski is also proud to support the Whitechapel Gallery’s brilliant Youth Programme for the fifth successive year through the Swarovski Foundation.
There will also be an auction led by Rebecca Tooby-Desmond of Phillips Auction House. The auction will present works donated by artists including Jodie Carey, Helen Chadwick (Estate), Alice Channer, Nicolas Deshayes, France-Lise McGurn, Fiona Rae, Conrad Shawcross, Luc Tuymans, Jessica Warboys and Alison Wilding. Alongside a silent auction will also take place, which will offer exclusive events and tours. All funds raised will go to support the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme, in particular its work with thousands of children and young people.
Rachel Whiteread – born in 1963, UK – is internationally renowned for her evocative sculptures that translate negative space into solid form. Casting from everyday objects, often using spaces around or within furniture and architecture, she uses materials such as rubber, dental plaster and resin to capture every nuance. In recent large-scale works, she has replicated the empty interiors of wooden garden sheds in concrete and steel, recalling the earlier architectural works Ghost (1990) and House (1993).
Whiteread studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art in the 1980s. In 1993 she was the first woman to win the Turner Prize. Her work The Tree of Life (2012), a frieze of golden leaves, is situated above the entrance to the Whitechapel Gallery and was the artist’s first permanent public commission in the UK.