francesca woodman is one of my fave photographers, ever. she produced over 800 photographs over a very brief lifetime (only ~120 or so have been published). woodman’s portfolio stems largely from her years at RISD, before her death at the age of 22. this is some of the most impressive student work out there, and critics, collectors, and historians alike agree that she likely would have produced a tremendous body of work as a mature artist.
i wrote about fw in college for a seminar on contemporary female artists and have been hooked ever since; i find her use of space and her play with patterns, texture and materiality really wonderful, esp. how she played with long exposure times to blur bodies in with their surroundings. there’s a lot of feminist criticism on this (some good, some bad), and her work is also often read with a heavily psychanalytic lens (to varying degrees of success). visually, her photos are dark, funny, playful and whimsical, sometimes slightly disturbing but somehow oddly sweet.
this year marks the 30th anniversary of her death, so expect big retrospectives coming to a museum near you. the san francisco moma kicks it off this saturday, and seriously, if you are around, you should really go. the show will hit the east coast in january at the guggenheim in 2012, so i’m happy to say i’ll be able to check her stuff out come winter when i’m back in the states. in the meantime, i can content myself with a little photograph i bought last week at the fiac au grand palais. (!!!!!) the fiac is paris’s alternative to london’s frieze. it’s older (some say wiser), larger, has a greater mix of modern and contemporary, as well as a greater range of prices (says the humble newbie collector). like frieze, neon was a big hit at the fair. unlike frieze, there was also a lot of video and, yep, photography. let’s just say my heart skipped a beat when i saw the francesca woodman’s on display.
i won’t flash mine, but here are some of my fave francesca woodman photos: