Sarah Charlesworth was a prominent artist within the Pictures Generation, a group of New York artists in the 1970s-80s that included Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, and Laurie Simmons, among others, who questioned how images are made, read, and circulated. Charlesworth’s photo-based works powerfully deconstruct, subvert and address visual culture brought about by photography.
Her staged compositions are known for their elegant visual allusions, typically setting everyday objects against bright, monochrome backgrounds. Leaf Frame, however, uniquely inverts the artist’s usual compositional strategy. Here, the object frames the background and not the other way around. A crown of leaves frame a sky-blue, infinite center. In this rare twist in the artist’s image composition, the background, negative space – her visual signature – becomes the subject.
Charlesworth was the subject of significant retrospective exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the New Museum in the last year. Her work appears in museum collections throughout the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; among many others.
The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth is represented by Maccarone, New York.
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Image rights: Courtesy of the artist's estate and Maccarone Gallery, New York
Maccarone Gallery, New York
About Sarah Charlesworth
A key member of the Pictures Generation, Sarah Charlesworth explores the structures and assumptions that undergird visual production. Her work evolved as she began to notice how “values were being constructed in mass culture that informed the way we think about the world, our possibilities as human beings, how it is to be a woman, how it is to be a man, how it is to be American or a white person or whatever,” as she has said. For her series “Objects of Desire” from the early ‘80s, which plays with the language of advertising, Charlesworth appropriated images of animals, Hollywood gowns, or masks, among other subjects, isolating them from their context and setting them against bright, monochromatic backgrounds.