I love her work - and I wondered if anyone else here does.
Essay by Fred Turner
If Francesca Woodman had been a poet, she would have been Sylvia Plath. Not the grotesque, determined suicide of "Lady Lazarus" (although Woodman did die by her own hand), nor the raging harridan of "Daddy," but the mysterious, sprite-like Plath of "Ariel," the one who marveled that she was on the earth at all, let alone in female form. Like Plath, Woodman devoted herself to the exploration of the visible landscape of her body and its invisible counterpart, her psyche. And like Plath, Woodman seems to have been born with perfect pitch in her chosen medium. Unlike Plath, however, Woodman has remained relatively unknown to the general public.
That could -- and should -- change with the publication of Francesca Woodman. Although portions of her work have appeared in several exhibition catalogues, Francesca Woodman is the first book to trace the entire arc of the artist's career. Opening with an eerie self-portrait made when she was 13 and closing with the wildly inventive portrait sequences she made in 1980, the year before she died at the age of 22, the book reveals what the earlier selections could only hint at: that over time, Woodman, like Plath, pared the music in her art down toward a single, haunting tone. Even as the range of her photographic techniques increased, the emotional range of her images contracted in ever tightening circles. A sense of loss and longing inhabited her earliest work, but by the end, it came to define it.
Still, with Woodman, as with Plath, we need to resist the temptation to define the art by the artist's suicide. Woodman's images are sometimes bleak, but they're often curious and playful as well. This is especially true of the work she did in Providence, Rhode Island. A student at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1975 to 1979, Woodman lived above the Pilgrim Mills dry-goods store and haunted the city's abandoned factories and Victorian manses. One afternoon, she borrowed Charlie, a famous (and famously fat) RISD model, stripped him naked, and set him to playing with various mirrors and windows in a rundown loft. Eventually Woodman took off her own clothes and joined him. The images of the two of them laughing and posing are hilarious, but as David Levi Strauss points out in his accompanying essay, Woodman's occasional captions remind us of a more serious intent. "Charlie has been a model at RISD for 19 years," she writes (under an image sadly not included here). "I guess he knows a lot about being flattened to fit paper."
Flattened to fit paper? How could anyone this funny, Woodman seems to be asking, ever be transformed into charcoal on paper? And within that question, Woodman asks others: What are the boundaries between our bodies and our images of bodies? Between our selves and our reflections? How could a man this alive ever disappear? Suddenly, what first appeared to be simply a series of cheerful snapshots becomes a row of gray windows, each granting a vertiginous glimpse into the canyons of life and death.
Or perhaps I should say life-in-death, since in Woodman's work, the two realms are constantly intruding on one another. Even in her earliest images, Woodman was fascinated with the ways in which the human body could be made to seem an apparition. As a young teenager, for instance, she photographed a naked person crawling through a large, cross-shaped gap in a tombstone. By using a slow exposure speed, she turned that person's body into a blur, even as she rendered the world around it crisp and clear. Woodman went on to use this technique throughout her life, photographing herself jumping, bending, waving, and stretching, usually in near-empty rooms. Clustered into small, thematic groups, these photographs make up a diary of a woman who would have us see her (and who would perhaps see herself?) as some Shakespearean nymph, always about to dart back into the wall.
Such imagery is not entirely without precedent or subsequent influence. As several critics noted in the late 1980s, Woodman learned a great deal from the narrative portraits of Duane Michaels. In retrospect, one can also see her work presaging the theatrical self-portraits of Cindy Sherman, or even the juvenile dramas Sally Mann composed of her children. Unfortunately, the essays that accompany Woodman's photographs leave these connections underexplored. Woodman's friend and sometime collaborator Sloan Rankin offers a brief set of personal reminiscences, while French novelist Philippe Sollers records his own, idiosyncratic impressions of Woodman's work. Elizabeth Janus describes a year that Woodman lived in Rome and the various artists she encountered there, and David Levi Strauss examines Woodman's debt to surrealism. Despite their occasionally critical intent, these essays ultimately grant more weight to Woodman's biography than to her artistic heritage, and to that extent they underestimate her achievement.
When Woodman leaped from the window of a building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1981, she left behind the makings of a myth. But she also left behind images of an extraordinary internal life. Ultimately, it is the quality of that internal life, rather than the manner in which it ended, that illuminates Woodman's work.
i like these as well...
looks like there's some ralph eugene meatyard influence... or it is reminiscent of meatyard's work for me anyway...
which is a good thing imo
kind of creepy and beautiful all at once..
♥ tFS 2013 READING CHALLENGE ♥┃CURRENTLY READING ▸ The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach┃COMPLETED ▶ 5 of 25┃
I recently stumbled on some of her photographs at the bookstore... she did absolutely beautiful work
from wikipedia: Francesca Woodman (born April 3, 1958 in Denver, Colorado, died January 19, 1981 in New York) was, despite her short life, a remarkably influential and important photographer. Appearing in most of her photographs, her work concentrated mainly on her own body and her surroundings, and at times the two would seem to merge into one. Woodman often used long-term exposure and double exposure so that she could insert herself into the composition.
Life and Work
Woodman grew up in an artistic family (her mother is the well-known ceramic artist Betty Woodman) and at an early age discovered photography, developing her first pictures at the age of 13. Between 1975 and 1979 she attended the Rhode Island School of Design. In January 1981 she published her first (and only work while she was alive) collection of pictures, Some Disordered Interior Geometries. Later that month, she committed suicide by jumping from a window of her New York studio at the age of 22.
on being an angel (1977)
untitled (MacDowell Colony, Petersborogh, New Hampshire) 1980
a timeline of francesca's life, from photoarts.com:
1958 April 3. Born in Denver, Colorado 1959-60 Family spends year in Florence Italy 1964-65 Boulder Public Schools 1965-66 Family returns to Florence / Second grade, Public School in Florence 1966-71 Boulder Public Schools 1972-73 Abbot Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (...hey, cool she went to the same school as my mom!. ) / Summer in Antella, Italy (outside Florence) 1973-74 Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts / Summer in Antella 1974-75 Boulder High School, Graduation in June / Summer in Antella 1975-79 Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island 1977-78 Rome, Rhode Island School of Design Rome Honors Program 1978 Fall. Last semester at Rhode Island School of Design 1979 January. Moves to New York, 2nd Avenue / Summer in Stanwood, Washington. / Fall. Moves to 12th Street studio 1980 Summer. Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire 1981 January. Publication of "Some Disordered Interior Geometries"
January 19. Suicide in New York.