Rachel Whiteread Wins British Turner Prize, 1993

The Turner Prize was created in 1984 to celebrate outstanding contemporary artists. The Turner Prize, organized by Tate Britain, goes to a British artist under 50 years of age in recognition of an excellent exhibition or other presentation of their art in the past year. (If you’re interested in British contemporary art or British art in general, check out the Tate collection of British art).

In 1993, Rachel Whiteread became the first woman to win the Turner Prize for her concrete cast of a London house, entitled House. This piece was very controversial, and the night Whiteread won the Turner Prize, she learned it would be demolished. In all fairness, Whiteread contractually agreed to the demolition of House eventually, but she was still dismayed to hear that its time on display was not extended.

House, the cast of an East End of London house about to be demolished, won Whiteread the Turner Prize.

Ironically enough, Whiteread won the K Foundation Art Award for “worst artist of the year” after winning the Turner Prize. Unlike the Turner Prize, the K Foundation was described by author James F. English as “hostile philanthropy,” perhaps trying to prove a point that what some saw as art, others saw as rubbish, or how the Turner Prize was supposedly fixed.

Judenplatz Holocaust memorial, 2000- Another one of Whiteread’s iconic sculptures. This austere concrete structure is an inverted library, meant to evoke harsh and unsettling emotions.

What do you think of Whiteread’s art? Love it? Hate it? Either way, it’s pretty cool how she made a name for herself- and blazed the trail for other women- in the contemporary art world by winning the Turner Prize.

Further reading:

For more information on House and its controversy, this article is excellent.

If you would like to read what Whiteread thought of House, this article is interesting.

Thanks for reading,

Emily

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