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Francesca Woodman

1958Denver, United States | 1981New York, United States
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Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Self portrait talking to vince, ca. 1980, gelatin silver print, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah

American photographer.

From a family of artists, Francesca Woodman began her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence) in 1975, before a sojourn in Rome in 1977 and 1978. Inspired by baroque sculptures, she developed an angelic theme in her photographic works On Being an Angel (1977–1978). Her first solo exhibition took place in 1978. At the end of her studies, she went to New York, working temporarily as a model and photographer’s assistant, as well as participating in various group shows. She became friends with the collector of Surrealist art Timothy Baum. Her photographs bear close links to Surrealist photography, such as the deformation of the female nude, the appeal for found objects, and the penchant for dilapidated interiors. In January 1981 she published her first artist book, Some Disordered Interior Geometries. The body F. Woodman exposes is almost exclusively her own – often nothing more than a fragment or a fleeting apparition, suggesting the transient. Her Untitled Photographs (1975–1976) feature her playing with mirrors so as to multiply movement and the illusory effect of the image.

At times, she melts into her environment, as in the series Houses (1976), where she is seen erased into a flat surface, or disappearing into the floor, constantly opposing the fragility of her body with her physical space. Her images create elaborate enigmas that capture the viewer. Fascinated by transformation and the permeability of boundaries considered to be rigid, the young artist illustrated the delicate moments between adolescence and adulthood, presence and absence. Her work reveals influences including baroque painting, modern art, and postminimalism. She ended her life on the 19 February 1981. Her œuvre – approximately 800 images – continues to have a great influence on contemporary photographic creation. Like a number of contemporary artists, such as Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin, she reinterpreted the image of the female body, notably in her Self-portrait talking to Vince (1975), where she shows her face with her mouth open and full of plastic.

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Sixtine de Saint-Léger

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, It must be time for lunch now, New York, 1979, gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, © Estate of Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, 1975-1976, gelatin silver print, 14.2 x 14.3 cm, MoMA, © Estate of Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976, gelatin silver print on paper, 14.3 x 14.4 cm, Tate Liverpool, © Estate of Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Self-Portrait with cat, New York, 1980, gelatin silver print, 9.8 x 14.2 cm, private collection

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Space2, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978, gelatin silver print on paper, 14 x 14 cm, Tate

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Untitled (Powdered Mirror), 1977-1978, gelatin silver print, 13.9 x 12.9, © Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Art Museum, Richard and Ronay Menschel Fund for the Acquisition of Photographs

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1976, gelatin silver print on barite paper, © Estate of Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm, © George and Betty Woodman

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