March 11, 2014

Woodman On Monday

Every time I start this post, I leave it unfinished. Mainly because it either ends up as a cold informative Wikipedia-like bio or a make-believe postmodern interview (with the latter being my favourite, while not appropriate for eyes other than my own).
Francesca Woodman is one of the few artists I can emphatically say I can naturally connect to.

I was in my (tortured yet creative) teens when one of my teachers just looked at me out of the blue and said "make sure to join us on Monday; we’ll be going through some photos that I know you are going to love". I guess I laughed in my head at that bold statement (be not mistaken, nobody was brainy enough to get me, let alone deduce my fancies).

Born in Denver, Colorado in a family of artists, Woodman took an interest in photography from an early age and by her mid-teens she had already produced several black and white medium format photographs.

"As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence between 1975 and 1979, she was accepted into the Honors Program which enabled her to spend a year at the school’s campus in the sumptuous Palazzo Cenci in Rome. During that year (1977-78), Francesca frequented the Maldoror bookshop-gallery, which specialized in art books on Surrealism and Futurism. It was here that her first one-woman show was held. She also met the young generation of the Roman Transavanguardia.

After returning to the United States and completing her studies at Providence, Francesca Woodman moved to New York, where she embarked on more ambitious projects, making large blueprints on blue or brown paper as well as designing several books of her own photographs. «Some Disordered Interior Geometries», the only one of her books to be published, came out in January 1981, at which date she took her own life". Source

A couple of movies were made about Woodman: “The Fancy”, a short experimental video filmed in 2000 by film and video maker Elisabeth Subrinand and “The Woodmans”, a full length documentary about Francesca and her family (George and Betty Woodman), directed by Scott Willis in 2010. In the “Woodmans”, we can actually see Francesca herself (from archive footage), in the process of making some of her most recognized photographs.
I found both “The Fancy” and “The Woodmans” far from what Francesca Woodman would find aesthetically acceptable; but one should watch both, regardless.

"Woodman created at least 10,000 negatives which her parents now keep. Woodman's Estate consists of over 800 prints of which only around 120 images have ever been published or exhibited". Source


  1. Wow, cool pics! I love the atmosphere in them.

  2. She was very talented indeed. I hate the term "talented" but, some people are exactly that. It's an instinct and it cannot be taught.

  3. I sometimes miss my tortured teens, the creativity bursting. beautiful photos.

  4. I think I am (willingly) stuck in that transitional stage:-/

    She has an impressive body of work.

  5. They're disturbing, which I like. I'd never heard of her before - shame she took her life. If she managed to create over 10,000 images in such a short time, just imagine what she could have produced in an entire lifetime.

  6. I couldn't reach that number of negatives in 10 lifetimes, let alone in less than a decade! But it's not the number that is shocking; it's the quality of her work (considering her young age).

    I haven't seen every single photograph that she ever took (and it would be idiotic to expect all 10.000 to be masterpieces), but it's clear that she knew what she was doing and was in total control of all sorts of processes (both technical and aesthetic).