Nancy Rubins was born in Naples, TX, raised in Tullahoma, TN, and studied in Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore (BFA, 1974) and the University of California, Davis (MFA, 1976). She currently lives and works in Topanga Canyon, CA. For more than 25 years, Rubins has exhibited extensively around the world. Her work has been presented in major solo shows at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2005, 2001, 1997, 1994,1993); Fonds regional d’art contemporain de Bourgogne, France (2005); Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles (2001); Miami Art Museum (1999); ARTPACE, San Antonio (1997); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1994). Her work has also been featured in many major group exhibitions, including “Belvdere dell’Arte Orizzonti,” Forte Belvedere, Florence (2003); the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1995 Biennial Exhibition; “Aperto,” 45th Venice Biennale (1993); and “Helter Skelter; LA Art in the 1990s,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The artwork is the first commission on the Fourth Plinth to reflect specifically on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, and will link directly with Nelson’s column. It is also the first commission by a black British artist.
The ship’s 37 large sails are made of exuberant and richly patterned textiles commonly associated with African dress and symbolic of African identity and independence. The history of the fabric reveals that they were inspired by Indonesian batik design, mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa. Tying together historical and global threads and traversing Oceans and Continents, the work considers the complexity of British expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas that Nelson’s victory provided.
Yinka Shonibare says his piece will reflect the story of multiculturalism in London:
Shonibare has exhibited in leading museums worldwide and participated in seminal exhibitions such as: Sensation, Royal Academy of Arts, London (1997); 49th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy (2001); Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (2002); Double Dress, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel, touring; Africa Remix, various venues (2005-06) and Check-List Luanda Pop, African Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennial (2007).
Whiteread is one of the so-called Young British Artists, and exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997. She is probably best known for Ghost, a large plaster cast of the inside of a room in a Victorian house, and for her resin sculpture for the empty plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.