Rachel Whiteread

Due Porte


Not on display

Rachel Whiteread born 1963
Object, each: 2550 × 617 × 120 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Estate of Mollie Winifred Vickers, Art Fund support (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), Tate Members and Tate International Council 2019


Due Porte 2016 is a unique work comprising two solid resin objects, each measuring 2550 x 615 x 120 millimetres. They were made from a cast of a set of antique Italian doors removed from a building in Rome during a period of renovation. The work was made in the artist’s studio in East London by creating a mould of the original door in two parts (front and back). Resin was then poured into the moulds and, once set, the two pieces were invisibly joined side by side. The resulting work resembles the original object in scale and form but, due to its transparent nature, elements such as locks and bolts can appear inverted from certain angles. The Italian title of the work translates simply as ‘Two Doors’.

Whiteread has made casts of domestic architectural features and furnishings since her very first public exhibition in 1988 at the Carlisle Gallery in London, in which she exhibited the cast of the underside of a bed, a dressing table and a wardrobe. In subsequent years she progressed to creating works relating to larger objects and features such as staircases, rooms and an entire house but, despite working with increasingly large subjects, she always maintained and expanded her work with smaller scale domestic architectural features. Due Porte is the largest of a number of resin door sculptures made by the artist between 2012 and 2016. Whiteread’s doors are simultaneously both sculptural and architectural. As with other elements of her practice, Whiteread returns to a particular process or form and focuses on the difference and variation that comes from re-casting those forms.

Whiteread often follows large commissions with smaller bodies of related work and this is the case with the artist’s first series of doors from 2004. Titled IN-OUT, the opaque ‘plasticised plaster’ works were made immediately following the casting of George Orwell’s former office at the BBC in London and the resultant work, Untitled (Room 101) 2003. Following the completion of Whiteread’s monumental Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission, Embankment, in 2006, the artist decided to return to the development of smaller-scale work, particularly of a size that she could manage physically by herself (though she retained a highly skilled studio team). Whiteread has discussed this as being related to her control of the work and the need to feel like an artist rather than a ‘producer’ (quoted in James Lawrence, ‘Sculptural Common Sense’, in Rachel Whiteread, exhibition catalogue, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, California 2008, p.7). Around this time, she began to work with an expanded palette, including bright jewel tones of pink, yellow and blue expressed through pigment in plaster and through resin. Most notable of the resin works are a series of cast windows made between 2010 and 2012 and a series of doors made between 2012 and 2016, of which Due Porte is an example. The emphasis on seriality and repetition is common in Whiteread’s practice and illustrates her fascination with the exploration of objects, as well as her interest in the subjects of memory, material and mapping of the world.

Whiteread’s window and door works, including Due Porte, are installed in a naturalistic manner: the windows are secured to the wall at window height and the doors are displayed leaning against the wall, mirroring the way they might be encountered in a domestic or commercial environment.

Further reading
Rachel Whiteread: Walls, Doors, Floors and Stairs, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria 2005.
Ann Gallagher (ed.), Rachel Whiteread, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2017.
Charlotte Mullins, RW: Rachel Whiteread, revised edition, London 2017.

Linsey Young
April 2018, updated July 2019

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