So it’s official. I’m starting a regular feature here called Book Art (I know, very original), where I’ll be featuring the work of artists who either use books as a medium or as a prominent subject matter in their work. I may eventually come up with some sort of image or button but we’ll see when that happens. But for now I’m very excited to be talking about one of my favorite artists, the contemporary British sculptor Rachel Whiteread, and her work using books, namely shelves and libraries.
Rachel Whiteread is known for her sculptural casts of human-touched negative space. I love the limitless possibilities for casting mundane human objects and materializing the void of empty space around them into an object with weight and mass. The resultant new forms turn the formerly familiar into new and strange objects that are often very aesthetically pleasing and always layered with meaning. Here are a few of those works:
Back in 1995 Whiteread was selected to compete in a competition for the Vienna monument to the Holocaust. Her work with books culminated in her winning design for the monument which was finally erected in 2000 after much political opposition. Appropriately and poignantly, it’s an inverted, inaccessible library with illegible books to commemorate the thousands of forgotten and nameless Austrian Jew victims.
One day I will see this in person. If you want to know more, go to the wikipedia entry here. You can also ask me some questions in the comments because I did a lot of research and writing on Whiteread in my graduate studies. Also, please don’t hesitate to let me know of any artists or works I should be featuring or whose work I should check out. Happy Wednesday!