At the New Museum, Sarah Charlesworth’s Jumpers Leap for Us All

THE DAILY PIC: Her masterpiece from 1980 is a matter of art and death.


THE DAILY PIC (#1374): These are a two images from the series called Stills that Sarah Charlesworth conceived in 1980. Fourteen of them fill the first room in her retrospective at the New Museum, and they bowled me over when I walked off the elevator into their midst.

The images, plucked from newspaper pages, have all kinds of art-historical precedents: Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void and Warhol’s Suicide, as well as Bruegel’s Fall of Icarus, immortalized in verse by Auden. They are all about freezing a subject whose essence is motion – an artistic goal at least since the Renaissance.

But they also have a huge dose of real-world impact, which would have been there even before the jumpers of 9/11.

Charlesworth’s “Stills” must stand for the leap into the unknown made by artists and art. But they bill it as less heroic than deadly. They are the Fourteen Stations of the Studio, where repetition replaces progress toward glory.

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