’s Jonathan Jones posited
is uniquely British, exuding a “Dickensian chill.” “It is the solid trace of all the air that a room once contained,” he wrote in 2012. “We wonder at the dark invisible silence within. Vanished lives, lost voices, forgotten loves are trapped in that fossilised room like prehistoric creatures in limestone.” Whiteread’s sculptural magic, Jones suggested, enlists heavy, colorless plaster to evoke desire, mystery, and death.
In the end, though, it’s House
—a transient work that exists only in documentation—that remains Whiteread’s greatest feat to date. “People were even lobbying in parliament,” Whiteread told The Guardian
in 2007, recalling public fights to keep the sculpture on permanent view. “There was nothing in the art world that had had that level of publicity before.”
House came to a bittersweet end. On the same day Whiteread won the Turner Prize (November 23, 1993), the council decided to demolish her sculpture. Shortly after, a demolition and dismantling engineer razed the work. The televised, highly publicized event—journalists swarmed Whiteread, onlookers scooped up concrete remnants as keepsakes—took about an hour. House, however, had already earned its real estate in the art historical canon.