Objects of Desire: Sarah Charlesworth at Maccarone Gallery

Figures copy

Figures, 1983-1984
Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame

It was the late 70’s and The Pictures Generation was concerned with how images shape our everyday lives. If a photo says a thousand words, then this generation of baby boomer artists in New York were the careful listeners of their messages.  The work of Sarah Charlesworth has been the subject of more than 40 solo exhibitions, and has been included in the Whitney Biennial (1985) and Venice Biennale (1986) among many others. Maccarone Gallery’s first ever exhibition of the artist’s prolific collection, her Objects of Desire collection from 1983-1988, is a beautiful and haunting homage to the artist who passed away of a brain aneurysm almost one year ago. Charlesworth, who studied briefly under Lisette Model at The New School, continues to be well known for her large photographic works and striking color-play, deconstructing and reconstructing images outside of and apart from their usual historical or cultural situations, allowing us to both see and engage with the photographs in new ways:

“Objects of Desire is a five-part extended series which explores the iconography of popular culture and the desires and values it supports. Sub-series focus on the color and formal attributes of specific cultural arenas. These works address the language of gender and sexuality, popular conceptions of nature, religion and spirituality, as well as the framing of material desire. All works in the series are Cibachrome prints with matching lacquer frames. This exhibition is the first occasion various works from each of the five-part series have been brought together. In making Objects of Desire, Charlesworth extracted a wide range of images from books and magazines, including contemporary fashion, symbolic animals, ancient statuary, and emblems of power. She then re-photographed the images against solid color backgrounds, presenting the results in matching frames. With the introduction of new colors with each sub-series, Charlesworth’s subject matter was framed by another layer of symbolic context, i.e. red as sexuality, yellow as material desire, blue as metaphysical longing, green as nature, or black as the unknown.”1

Red Mask, 1983 Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame

Red Mask, 1983
Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame

The emotive layering does just that: the works create layers both beneath and below the dominant image. Situating well-known images in different contexts prompts unique responses. In this show, a divers context doesn’t necessarily have to mean a different time or place, but rather, a particular color or emotion. Sarah Charlesworth’s “Objects of Desire” is on view at Maccarone Gallery through June 21st at 630 Greenwich St. For more information, please visit www.maccarone.net

Buddha of Immeasurable Light, 1987 Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame

Buddha of Immeasurable Light, 1987
Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame

– Amie Zimmer

All images  courtesy of Maccarone, New York.  © Estate of Sarah Charlesworth
1 Press release, http://www.maccarone.net/

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