Rachel Whiteread has received critical acclaim for her unique body of work in which she subverts the function and form of everyday objects and familiar spaces. Since the late 1980s, the artist has used concrete, resin, rubber, and even dental plaster to cast sculptures of everything from air mattresses and bathtubs to the interior of a library and the exterior of a house. However, instead of making a highly detailed reproduction, Whiteread typically casts the negative space inside or surrounding her subjects to create a ghostly impression of the original.
Untitled (Domestic) is the result of the artist’s exploration of the less traversed spaces within buildings. To create this work, she cast the area around the fire escape staircase at what was then the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London, England (a late 18th-century building that was originally the home of Admiral Lord Nelson). By removing the flight of steps from its original context, Whiteread evokes a disorienting sense of both recollection and loss, while, at the same time, realizing her desire to imbue the formal aspects of the sculptural medium with architectural qualities.