Sarah Charlesworth (American, born 1947)
45 chromogenic prints
each 24 x 16 in. (61 x 40.6 cm)
Purchase, Vital Projects Fund Inc. Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, and Charlotte and Bill Ford Gift, 2010 (2010.554a-ss)
In the late 1970s a group of young artists working in New York—almost all of whom were women—effected a radical break with previous uses of photography and paved the way for the central role the medium plays today in contemporary art. In their works they eschewed Modernist ideals of expressive abstraction and documentary fidelity to fact for an art of quotation, serial progressions, and a cool, self-reflexive analysis of photography's relationship to culture. For April 21, 1978, Sarah Charlesworth focused on how a single photograph was presented on the front pages of forty-five newspapers around the world that day. The image is the photograph of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro holding the previous day's newspaper that his kidnappers released to the press to prove that their captive was still alive. (Moro was found dead in the back of a car on a Rome street two weeks later.) By masking out all instances of text and leaving only the mastheads, Charlesworth created a crazy quilt of pictures that lays bare the ideological function just beneath the surface objectivity of the daily news—in this instance, the maintenance of the power of the state.