Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld
Sarah Charlesworth (1947–2013) was a highly influential artist whose work examined the role that photographic images play in contemporary culture. She aligned closely with a group of New York-based artists in the 1980s known as the Pictures Generation, which included Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, and Laurie Simmons, among others. First identified by curator Douglas Crimp in his 1977 exhibition Pictures, at Artists Space in New York, these artists were concerned with how contemporary life is mediated and governed by pictures, specifically as we experience them in newspapers and magazines, on television, and in film. Over Charlesworth’s 40-year career she explored representation and symbolism, first through re-photographing and collaging found images, and later through creating stylized arrangements for the camera.
The exhibition title, Doubleworld, is taken from a 1995 photograph of the same name, which presents two 19th-century stereoscopic viewing devices, each holding a stereophotograph of two women standing side by side. At play is the artist’s interest in the way viewing is mechanically shaped as well as the theme of doubling, which presented itself throughout Charlesworth’s career as she continued to revisit iconography and objects, often with sly variations. Included in the exhibition are photographs from 10 bodies of work made between 1977 and 2012 arranged to accentuate her continued interest in color, form, and light. Invested with a rare precision and dedication, Charlesworth produced a body of work that continues to inspire contemporary artists and viewers who are drawn to our increasingly image-saturated culture.