Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon 2019 in partnership with Swarovski: Rachel Whiteread to be honoured on 29 January 2019

The Whitechapel Gallery is pleased to announce that Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963, UK) is the sixth artist to receive the prestigious annual Art Icon award in partnership with Swarovski. Art Icon 2019 will be presented at Whitechapel Gallery on Tuesday 29 January 2019, during a gala dinner hosted by Iwona Blazwick OBE (Director, Whitechapel Gallery) and Swarovski.

Iwona Blazwick said: “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.

Nadja Swarovski commented: “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.”

The Whitechapel Gallery’s annual Art Icon event is organised with generous support from Swarovski, which has a longstanding commitment to the Gallery and its programme. The event committee includes Dilyara Allakhverdova, Erin Bell, Maryam Eisler, Larry Gagosian, Ann Gallagher, Rebecca King Lassman, Luigi Maramotti, Farshid Moussavi, Jasmin Pelham, Catherine Petitgas, Sue Prevezer, Alice Rawsthorn, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Darius Sanai, Maria Sukkar, Nadja Swarovski and Cheyenne Westphal.

An auction, led by Rebecca Tooby-Desmond of Phillips Auction House, of works donated by leading artists including Jodie CareyHelen Chadwick (Estate)Alice Channer, Nicolas DeshayesFrance-Lise McGurnFiona RaeConrad ShawcrossLuc TuymansJessica Warboys and Alison Wilding will also take place alongside a silent auction offering exclusive events and tours All funds raised support the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme, in particular its work with thousands of children and young people each year.

Rachel Whiteread is internationally renowned for her evocative sculptures which translate negative space into solid form. Casting from everyday objects, oftentimes 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 and in 1993 she became 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. Recently a major exhibition bringing together well-known and new works never previously exhibited was on display at Tate Britain, London (2017) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington (2017) and the Saint Louis Art Museum (2017).