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Here is a brief synopsis of her work as expressed by Tate Online
“American photographer Francesca Woodman has eighteen rare vintage black and white photographs in the Artist Rooms display, from a collection once owned by the artist’s boyfriend. Woodman’s photographs exhibit many influences, from symbolism and surrealism to fashion photography and Baroque painting. They have a timeless quality that is ethereal and unique. The artist began taking photographs at the age of thirteen and though she was only twenty two when she took her own life, she left behind a substantial body of work.
Francesca Woodman’s photographs explore issues of gender and self, looking at the representation of the body in relation to its surroundings. She puts herself in the frame most often, although these are not conventional self-portraits as she is either partially hidden, or concealed by slow exposures that blur her moving figure into a ghostly presence. This underlying vulnerability is further emphasised by the small and intimate format of the photographs.
We often see her in otherwise deserted interior spaces, where her body seems to merge with its surroundings, covered by sections of peeling wallpaper, half hidden behind the flat plane of a door, or crouching over a mirror. Found objects and suggestive props are carefully placed to create unsettling, surreal or claustrophobic scenarios. Her photographs are produced in thematic series’, relating to specific props, places or situations.
Woodman was exposed to the symbolic work of Max Klinger whilst studying in Rome from 1977-78 and his influence can clearly be seen in many photographic series’, such as Eel Series, Roma (1977-78) and Angel Series, Roma (1977). In combining performance, play and self-exposure, Woodman’s photographs create extreme and often disturbing psychological states. In concealing or encrypting her subjects she reminds the viewer that photographs flatten and distort, never offering the whole truth about a subject.”
I recently stumbled upon her work. It has affected me profoundly for a number of reasons. Aesthetically I am drawn to her use of lines, light and composition. I am also drawn to her subject matter and the emotions they evoke.
I can’t say I have been influenced by her, since I have just started to explore her work, though I am sure that future work will be. I can say however, that it has inspired, validated and encouraged me to continue with the projects I have created thus far. What I find so very interesting is how much my work prior to any knowledge of Francesca Woodman, shares … I am in no way saying that my work is on the level of Francesca’s… but rather, the subject matter and my unbeknownst affinity to Francesca and her work. I have provided a couple examples of work I created prior to my awareness of Francesca’s work.
Art is such a person experience, so it is difficult to express why her work has affected me so profoundly. I am just grateful to have stumbled across her.
Recently a feature length documentary The Woodmans, directed by C. Scott Willis, was released theatrically by Lorber Films in 2010. Click on following link for more information:
For convenience sake, I have also provided some of the same images.
Click thumbnails below to view larger images