new-york

Rachel Whiteread

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

“Poignant,” promised the press release, “an exploration of the human traces left on everyday objects.” “Poetic,” I heard the dealer opine. Sadly, Rachel Whiteread’s recent exhibition of plaster casts of the insides of cardboard boxes was nothing of the sort. Rather, these new sculptures are a decadent fusion of geometrical abstraction and Pop art, two equally retardataire modernist modes. Where Andy Warhol’s boxes are characterized by the dull flatness of their silk-screened surfaces, Whiteread’s are distinguished by the dead tone of dusty plaster.

But despite the effacement of the brand names printed on the artist’s source objects in their sculptural derivatives, the underlying banality remains the same—the ultimate impression here is one of nakedness and vacuity. Unlike, say, the geometrical boxes of International Style architecture, neither scale, site, nor social function are at issue

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