Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Looking Up: Rachel Whiteread's Water Tower

  • Comment
review:

Edited by Louise Neri. Scalo/ Public Art Fund New York, 1999. 196pp. £27.50. Distributed by Thames & Hudson

Soon after the furore surrounding her cast concrete House in 1993, Rachel Whiteread was commissioned to create another temporary public art work, this time in New York, writes Andrew Mead. Eventually realised last year, it was a 4.5 tonne resin cast of one of the city's myriad wooden water towers - 'that engineering solution to the problem of water pressure in buildings of the transitional era between the age of the tenement and that of the skyscraper,' as Luc Sante remarks in his essay in Looking Up.

The book's colour photographs show how sensitive to changing light conditions this resin replica was: flaring in the sun but more spectral, almost invisible on an overcast day. And just as House touched a collective nerve, and stimulated some searching commentaries (for example Anthony Vidler's), so did this translucent water tower on its SoHo roof.

Looking Up is a beautifully designed record of the project, copiously illustrated to include the wide range of source material that Whiteread drew on as well as the complex process of the tower's fabrication and its brief rooftop life. 30 pages are devoted to reactions and interpretations that the work provoked, from the indifference of one passer-by to the appreciative analysis of MoMA architecture curator Terence Riley. Only a tiny proportion of public art works would ever justify this depth of documentation but, when they do, Looking Up is the model to follow.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

AJ Jobs