In the mid-1980s, the late Sarah Charlesworth scoured found print sources for images of statuary, clothing, amulets, bowls, tigers, columns, giant bronze Buddhas, and other slippery bundles of half-conscious mental urges; cut them out; rephotographed them against rich monochrome backgrounds; and printed them as a series called Objects of Desire. Despite the typological organization, these icons are resolutely non-systematic—like pagan gods in smoky niches dense with double meanings and contradictions. Each one is obscured by the cloud of its formal epithets and ambiguous variant names.
Artist Sarah Charlesworth, whose trenchant work investigated pop culture by borrowing from and tweaking its imagery, died of a brain aneurysm yesterday, according to her New York gallery, Susan Inglett. She was 66.
Ms. Charlesworth is perhaps best known for her “Modern History” series, which she made from 1977 to 1979 by producing photographs of the front pages of various newspapers, typically excising all the content except the nameplate and photographs. In some pieces she followed one newspaper for a number of days, showing how its contents changed over time. In others, she sampled numerous papers on the same day, looking at how different outlets selected and presented images for the day’s news. For one of her most iconic pieces from that series, April 21, 1978 (1978), she printed 45 newspaper covers that featured versions of a photograph of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro after being kidnapped by the Red Bridge.
“Pictures Generation” artists Sarah Charlesworth and James Welling have been named photography professors in the Visual Arts Program of Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, according to a note sent out by the e-flux e-mail service. Ms. Charlesworth, who will continue to teach at the School of Visual Arts, will be a lecturer; Mr. Welling, who chairs UCLA’s photography department, will be a visiting professor for the fall.