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A1 News Roundup

Remembering Sarah Charlesworth, Groundbreaking "Pictures Generation" Photographer

Remembering Sarah Charlesworth, Groundbreaking "Pictures Generation" Photographer
The artist Sarah Charlesworth


Sarah Charlesworth, a conceptual artist who applied exacting scrutiny to familiar imagery and objects in an almost prosecutorial search for their hidden truths, has passed away at the age of 66. One of the more stylistically influential members of the so-called "Pictures Generation"—with which, like Cindy Sherman, she was grouped despite not being included in Douglas Crimp's 1977 "Pictures" show at Artists Space—she devised a signature pictorial approach that married intellectual concepts with utterly refined, elegantly minimal presentation.

Born in New Jersey, Charlesworth attended Barnard and then studied photography at the New School before joining the avant-garde circle of 1907s New York artists who were laying out the ground rules for conceptual art, collaborating with Joseph Kosuth on a short-lived theoretical art journal called The Fox. Inspired partly by the French critical theorist Roland Barthes, who viewed mass cultural images as signs freighted with latent meaning to be deciphered, she first gained attention for a series of artworks starkly displaying newspaper snippets (headlines, photographs), forcing viewers to examine the way they responded to media's authoritative voice.

This approach, informed by Charlesworth's deep suspicion of art as a commodity, evolved over the years as she turned her eye to imagery that was sometimes deeply disturbing, such as newspaper photographs of people leaping from buildings in her 1980 "Stills" series. But more often, her work is deeply visually pleasurable, isolating images or objects—a dress, a classical statue, a bowl—against colorful monochrome backgrounds for analysis, like forensic evidence, or brain-food canapés on a tray. 

This latter body of work, which stretched throughout her career, can today be seen resonating in the work of conceptual photographers like Elad Lassry and Roe Ethridge, and is highly coveted by collectors. Represented by Susan Inglett Gallery, Charlesworth is collected by such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which included her in its 2009 "Pictures Generation" show), and LACMA. – Andrew M. Goldstein


“Sarah detoxified spectacle without abandoning it. She actually dealt with the aesthetics of reproduction, and by making those aesthetics transparent, she detoxified them, without abandoning them to make ugly things.” — The art critic Dave Hickey in Andrew Russeth's excellent appreciation of Charlesworth


Artists Announced For Frieze Projects — New Frieze Projects curator Nicola Lees has commissioned work by artists Andreas Angelidakis, Gerry Bibby, Rivane Neuenschwander, Ken Okiishi, Angelo Plessas, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, and Josef Strau for the 2013 fair in London. (Press release)

Harris Lieberman Closes — After seven years, the Chelsea gallery that represented artists such as Karl Haendel, Julia Dault, and Zak Prekop will close its doors and co-founder Jessie Washburn-Harris will move on to a post as a director at Metro Pictures. (GalleristNY)

Dia to Auction Art to Buy More Art — The Dia Art Foundation is not known for parting with pieces of its revered collection, but now in advance of its planned return to Chelsea the institution is auctioning off two prime pieces by Cy Twombly and John Chamberlain—both artists it has collected in depth—at Sotheby's to create an acquisition fund for new pieces. (NYT)

Getty Acquires Werner Herzog Video — The Getty Museum has acquired Werner Herzog's popular contribution to the 2012 Whitney Biennial, a video installation combining images of etchings by 17th century Dutch artist Hercules Segers with the music of cellist Ernst Reijseger and organist Harmen Franje, which debuts at the Getty on July 23. (GalleristNY)

Guy Yanai Discusses His Art — Watch a video with the up-and-coming Israeli artist, whom we interviewed here. (Artis)

— IN & OUT —

Met Hires New Digital Chief — The Metropolitan Museum created the new position of Chief Digital Officer for Sree Sreenivasan, a tech journalist who previously held the same title at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. (Press release)

Jenny Moore Heads to Chinati Foundation — Former New Museum associate curator Jenny Moore has taken a position as executive director at Donald Judd's Marfa-based Chinati Foundation, effective August 1. (Press release)

EXPO CHICAGO has announced that it will debut two new artist prizes at its sophomore edition this September: the Artadia/EXPO CHICAGO Award, which will recognize a Chicago-based artist, and the Andree Stone Emerging Artist Prize, which will purchase a work by an up-and-coming artist for MCA Chicago's collection. 


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