Artists, On this day..., Photographers, Photography

On this day… was born Francesca Woodman

On this day in 1958 was born Francesca Stern Woodman. She was an American photographer especially famous for her black and white pictures and her work continues to be the subject of critical acclaim until today.

Self-portrait by Francesca Woodman (c.1977) Photo credit: Wikiart

She was born in Denver to a family of artists. She took her firs self-portrait when she’s 13 and continued photographing herself until her death. In 1972, while studying at Abbot Academy, a private school in Massachusetts she began to develop her photographic skills and became interested in art form.  In 1975 she attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and two years later she went to Rome in a RISD honour program.

In 1979 she went to New York, she wanted to make a career in photography. A year later she was an artist-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. At the end of this same year she became depressed due to failure of her work to attract attention and to the end of a relationship, surviving a suicide attempt in the autumn of 1980, after this episode she lived with her parents in Manhattan. But in January of 1981, she died by suicide with only 22 years old.

Her Work

Woodman used different cameras and film formats during her short career. But most of her photographs were taken with medium format cameras producing (6×6 cm) square negatives.  She created at least 10.000 negatives, which her parents now keep. Woodman’s estate, that is now managed by her parents, consists of over 800 prints, of which only around 120 images had been published or exhibited.

Untitled (1980)
Photo credit: Wikiart

Often her photographs show women (herself and other female models) naked or clothed, blurred, as merging with their surroundings, or whose faces are obscured. Most of her prints are 20 by 25 cm, or smaller, is an attempt to produce an intimate experience between viewer and photograph.

Many of her images are untitled and are known only by location and date. She often took photographs indoors, finding abandoned and derelict spaces in which she found inspiration to create tableaux with a photographic camera.

Woodman ad only a few exhibitions while she was alive, some of them were in alternative spaces of New York and Rome. Between 1981-1985 there were no known exhibitions (in a group or solo) of her work, but several exhibitions each year since then.