In February 1980, Charlesworth created Stills, a series of harrowing, six-and-a-half-foot-tall photographs depicting bodies falling from buildings.When Stills was first shown in 1980 in Tony Shafrazi’s East Village apartment, it consisted of seven images. To create the series, Charlesworth scoured news wires and the archives of the New York Public Library for images of people plunging through the air, having jumped out of a windows to commit suicide or because of a catastrophe like fire. After appropriating the photograph, she would crop or tear it, often leaving the edges ragged so that it appeared to be haphazardly torn like a homemade clipping. She would then rephotograph the image and enlarge it. Charlesworth later expanded the series, printing an eighth work from her original source material in 2009 and – as a commission of the Art Institute of Chicago – creating a set of six new ones from the original transparencies that were never printed. Each gelatin silver print was made and mounted to the exact specifications of those she created in 1980.
In her “Objects of Desire” series (1983-1988), Cibachrome prints of appropriated images – typically a cutout picture of a single object, including a gold bowl and a statue of a Buddha – are photographed against bright, laminated monochrome backgrounds that match their lacquered frames.In the series Renaissance Paintings and Renaissance Drawings (both 1991), Charlesworth combined imagery from disparate Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings to make new, often ironic paintings and drawings.