MoMA
Rachel Whiteread

Water Tower

1998
On view
Medium
Translucent resin and painted steel
Dimensions
12' 2" (370.8 cm) high x 9' (274.3 cm) in diameter
Credit
Gift of the Freedman Family in memory of Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman
Object number
1260.1999.a-b
Copyright
© 2015 Rachel Whiteread

Commissioned by the Public Art Fund and originally installed in 1998 on a rooftop in the Soho neighborhood of New York, Water Tower is Whiteread's first public sculpture to be conceived and displayed in the United States. The British artist scoured the city in search of a quintessentially New York subject. Looking across the East River to Manhattan during a visit to Brooklyn, she admired the water towers perched high above the streets and was drawn to their uniqueness and their ubiquity in the architectural cityscape.

Whiteread is known for her castings in resin and plaster of familiar objects and the spaces they surround, such as the interiors of a bathtub and a row house in London's East End, and for her ability to make people see these objects and spaces anew. Water Tower is a resin cast of the interior of a once-functioning cedar water tower, chosen specifically for the texture this type of wood would impart to the surface. The translucent resin captures the qualities of the surrounding sky; the sculpture’s color and brightness change throughout the day and it becomes a near-invisible whisper at night. Whiteread has called this work "a jewel on the skyline of Manhattan." Soaring and ephemeral, it inspires city–dwellers and visitors alike to look again at the solid, weighty water towers they usually see without noticing.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 171
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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource