One of the leading members of the Pictures Generation, Sarah Charlesworth is recognized for her poetic use of appropriated imagery. The focus of this exhibition—her five-part “Objects of Desire” series, created between 1983 and 1988—comments on the iconography of contemporary culture. It explores the exigencies of desire as they pertain to sexuality, religion and nature.
Charlesworth began by cutting out photographs of people, animals and items from various print sources, then rephotographing them against bright monochromatic backgrounds. The results were produced as glossy prints with matching colored frames. Presented as single images, diptychs and triptychs, the 20 pieces here use color to notate different categories of desire, equating, for example, red with sexuality, green with nature and blue with spiritual longing.
Two images against fields of red—of a leather bondage harness and a silhouetted fall of platinum blond hair—evoke the role of absence in desire. Meanwhile, another diptych in black and blue pairs the triangular abracadabra symbol with a set of tools. The work speaks, perhaps, to the combination of magic and craft needed to make art. Luckily, both are very much in evidence here.—Paul Laster