Sarah Charlesworth - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Phillips
  • Catalogue Essay

    Sarah Charlesworth’s Subtle Body is a part of the Academy of Secrets series that the artist developed in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The series illustrates Charlesworth’s attempt to “create a complex, emotional field resembling a visual dream or a feeling,” and an effort to “exorcise, rearrange and reshape” symbolisms attached to preexisting images in one’s subconscious through repeated exposure in the media.

    In the composition, cut-outs of delicate and vulnerable objects –– clay vessels, a heart, a fetus, a lotus flower, and a snail –– are arranged vertically on a monochromatic field of white. Such alignment appropriates the format of Tantric meditation emblems, in which a vertical sequence of symbols represents seven centers of the human body. The life-size scale of the work further encourages an anthropomorphic experience when the viewer confronts the work. Created during the artist’s pregnancy, the work urges the spectators to turn their contemplation inwards, exploring the body and the self through symbolic images. The surface is also deliberately made matte, eliminating any reflections that might cause distractions to the exploration of one’s interior.


Subtle Body from Academy of Secrets

Dye destruction print, mounted.
71 x 49 in. (180.3 x 124.5 cm)
Overall 78 x 57 in. (198.1 x 144.8 cm)

Initialed and dated in white ink within a blindstamp credit on the recto. One from an edition of 4 plus 2 artist's proofs.

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $10,625

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Vanessa Hallett
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New York Auction 14 October 2020