Follow the path of a total solar eclipse through the front pages of local newspapers along the way.

Arc of Total Eclipse, February 26, 1979 is part of Sarah Charlesworth’s Modern History series. The 29 front pages are reproduced with everything removed but the masthead and photographs of the previous day’s solar eclipse.

The newspapers—mostly small-town journals—represent locations from Portland, Oregon, to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Each tells a slightly different story about the same event through the picture selection and layout.

Charlesworth (1947–2013) came of age artistically in the 1960s and early 1970s as the rigorous and pristine objects of Minimalism gave way to the dematerialized art of Conceptualism. She rose to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, and other artists of the “Pictures Generation.”

The Modern History series perfectly exemplifies that pivot point. Charlesworth and others adopted Conceptual art’s rule-based creative systems and banishment of the artist’s hand, but at the same time they once again embraced representation, exploring the way popular images both reflect and influence modern life.

Sarah Charlesworth: Arc of Total Eclipse, February 26, 1979 | On view May 23–November 29, 2020



This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.