Sarah Charlesworth

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Sarah Charlesworth

Work from her oeuvre.

“Ms. Charlesworth was part of a wave of talented artists, many of them women, who rephotographed existing photographs or dissected the medium’s conventions with staged tableaus. This work was an important step between the cerebral rigors of 1970s Conceptual Art and the more permissive image-play of 1980s Pictures Art.

Her Pictures Generation contemporaries included Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Laurie Simmons and Ellen Brooks, as well as Richard Prince, James Casebere and James Welling. and she spoke for many of them when she told Bomb magazine in 1990, “I’ve engaged questions regarding photography’s role in culture for 12 years now, but it is an engagement with a problem rather than a medium.”

Ms. Charlesworth is probably best known for large, exquisite photographic works in which rarefied images — ancient masks, figures lifted from Renaissance paintings, disembodied Hollywood-starlet gowns — are isolated against fields of lush monochrome color. At once seductive and didactic, they compete with painting in visual strength, wink at advertising and slyly raise questions about cultural and sexual stereotypes, personal symbolism and the role of pleasure and beauty — in both art and life — as perhaps particularly female pursuits.” – Roberta Smith, NY Times

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