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Untitled (For Frank), Rachel Whiteread

Bookshelf sculpture

At a glance

Artist: Rachel Whiteread

Date: 1999

Materials: Plaster, polystyrene and steel in three parts

Acquisition: Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from Frank Dunphy and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2018

In Untitled (For Frank), Rachel Whiteread uses plaster to make permanent the negative space of three bookshelves, the material picking up irregularities and traces left behind by the pages. Characteristics such as colour, surface and even paper residue are captured by the plaster. Although the books are absent, their ghostly presence evokes the memory of knowledge or ideas the books have left behind.

This work is one in a series of book casts Whiteread made in the late 1990s, including a commission for the Holocaust Memorial in Vienna completed in 2000. Her practice complicates the relationship between absence and presence; casting the overlooked or unseen spaces of the everyday world allows us to see familiar objects differently.

Associated with the Young British Artists, Whiteread was the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993. The reference to Frank in the title is to Frank Dunphy, Damien Hirst’s manager from many years and an avid art collector at the heart of the radical 1990s British art scene.