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Rachel Whiteread's first United Kingdom public commission announced
The Whitechapel Gallery at night and the new lighting scheme for Rachel Whiteread’s commission for the façade. Courtesy Jason Bruges Studio.

LONDON.- The Art Fund is supporting a major new commission by Rachel Whiteread for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery. The work, which will cover the front of the building in golden leaves, will be the East Londoner's first permanent public sculpture in the United Kingdom.

The commission
Whiteread's sculpture is planned for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery, a Grade II listed building dating from 1901. The façade was originally planned to feature a frieze embodying the Gallery's public message – to bring great art to the people of London – but this was never realised.

The Tree of Life motif featured on the gallery's building has provided the inspiration for Whiteread's commission, embellishing the façade with dozens of individually-crafted golden leaves to create a powerful decorative scheme.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, commented: “The Art Fund has long had a reputation for supporting contemporary as well as historic art and we are delighted to be the major funder of this significant commission by one of the world’s foremost sculptors. It is an important moment in the history of the Whitechapel Gallery.”

British sculptor Rachel Whiteread is best known for her casts of the 'negative spaces' of buildings, rooms and spaces. Her 1990 sculpture Ghost cast an entire room from a house in the East End of London in negative, with features such as the fireplace and door handles appearing as indentations. A later work, House, did the same with an entire Victorian building.

Whiteread's ability to make absences tangible have led many to associate her work with death and loss, leading to her commision for the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna. She won the Turner Prize in 1993, and was the third artist to create a sculpture for Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

Other works the Art Fund has helped commission
• James Turrell’s Deer Shelter (2006) for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

• David Batchelor’s Waldella (2009) for McManus Galleries Dundee

• Antony Gormley's 6 Times (2010) for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

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