Watertower at MoMA

Can you spy the water tower? It’s in the top right.

The rooftops of NYC are filled with water towers, but this one is deceptive. It is not actually a water tower, but a commissioned piece Water Tower by British artist Rachel Whiteread. Cast in clear resin of the inside of a real water tower, it actually has no color of its own. A fact I didn’t realize when I was trying to take a picture of it and couldn’t quite get it.

Whitehead says:

So it’s a single clear plastic casting of a full–sized water tower that sat on the roof on the corner of West Broadway and Grand Street, on a dunnage.

I had originally thought of making this piece solid but that’s technically impossible. So we had to make it empty, so the whole thing is a skin of about four inches all the way around. And it has the texture of the inside of the water tower, so it’s really about solidifying water and trying to make this water look like it’s just frozen in a moment of time. It’s like the actual water tower has been stripped away and there’s this solid water left behind.

It’s translucence means that in different lights it shows up more or less visibly, like a sky ghost over Manhattan.

Rachel Whiteread. (British, born 1963). Water Tower. 1998. Translucent resin and painted steel, 12′ 2″ high x 9′ in diameter.

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