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Best of the Best: Francesca Woodman

"Things looked funny because my pictures depend on an emotional state... I know this is true and I thought about this for a long time. Somehow it made me feel very, very good." – Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman © via www.long-may-she-rain.blogspot.com

Francesca Woodman (April 3, 1958 – January 19, 1981), the daughter of artist-parents (her mother Betty, a ceramicist and sculptor and her father George, a painter and photographer), was an American modernist photographer who started taking pictures at the age of 13. She was that young when she took her first self-portrait.

Woodman was fond of taking black and white photographs, oftentimes of herself, nude, and set in abandoned, dilapidated, dusty, ruined, and wrecked set-ups — with crumbling & peeling paint and faded & tarnished wallpapers — that she contributed a lot to the genre of self-portraiture. Because she usually hid herself in self-portraits, her style was referred to as “anti-portraits.”

Self-portrait at thirteen © Francesca Woodman via www.heenan.net

Whilst some critics claim that her work is narcissistic, Woodman used to reply, “It’s a matter of convenience, I am always available.” However, Woodman’s end results of her self-portraiture does not reveal her true persona: the real-life Woodman is the complete opposite. She adored dressing up a la Alice in Wonderland and sometimes even like a Victorian heroine. She used to keep a journal in which she wrote about “beautiful gingerbread men, chocolate truffles, peach mumble, [and] blackberry slump” — she explored the possibilities of transformation through cameras and she became successful in making art out of her corpse-like, mysterious disguises and poses.

Woodman’s works which imbued a singularity of style envisioned an artistic and productive life cut short. It was 1981 and she was only 22 years young when she committed suicide. Her untimely death did not only cast a shadow on the images she left behind; her passing on significantly left a window through which people can see her autobiographical life in an intense, intimate, and introspective point of view. She has consistency in signature: a rarity that’s found in young artists. If one takes a look at her stirring photographs, it may be a bit disconcerting. But also, one cannot help but feel regret because of what more could have might been. Even after 30 years since she deserted the living life, Woodman still beguilingly hides from us as seen through her incomparable masterpieces.

Francesca Woodman © via www.static.guim.co.uk

Francesca Woodman was a photographer & a model and she was the object & the subject — both at the same time. Her stirring style of her monochromatic photographs is a mishmash of blurry, clandestine, creepy, dramatic, elusive, intimate, gothic, playful, provocative, and strange. Her series were a tie between adolescent self-obsession and artistic self-exploration & self-preservation. Out of, more or less, 800 pictures taken between 1972 and 1981, here are a few but unforgettable and highly acclaimed selection of gray-toned images by Francesca Woodman:

Which of these disarming Francesca Woodman photographs strike your liking the most? What other modern and surreal photographers would you like to be written about?

Do you like this article? Read more about the Best of the Best Series. Previously featured female photographers and their best shots include Diane Arbus, Ilse Bing, Julia Margaret Cameron.

written by basterda

18 comments

  1. hanibale

    hanibale

    Amazing

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. freckleface

    freckleface

    Wow what an amazing body of work! Such fascinating perspectives..

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. tonantzin

    tonantzin

    WOW!! Thanks for the discovery!!! I didn't know her!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. pomps

    pomps

    amazing work!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. luobodingr

    luobodingr

    These images are so 'other-worldly'... leaves me wondering why she took her own life at such a young age? I wonder if she knows we're still viewing her images...
    Love to see more of this kind of content on the site! Keep it up!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  6. gvelasco

    gvelasco

    Sad. She was a truly great photographer.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  7. melonhead

    melonhead

    She's always been my favourite photographer by far.
    I'm so glad this article has been written !

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  8. bpvarona

    bpvarona

    Ethereal, otherworldly, but still substantial and grounded. I'm glad her photography lives on, although it's really sad she took her life at such a young age.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  9. lucaro

    lucaro

    Excellent..!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  10. _erikazambrano

    _erikazambrano

    Poetic photos.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  11. daniellepetrosa

    daniellepetrosa

    love her

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  12. volker-jp

    volker-jp

    wow!!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  13. yyyhorn

    yyyhorn

    enjoyed that article!! amazing portraits!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  14. erinwoodgatesphotography

    erinwoodgatesphotography

    Always been one of my faves, glad to see someone else thinks the same!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  15. theresia

    theresia

    amazing work!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  16. geekgoddesskilobyte

    geekgoddesskilobyte

    Wow! I am so glad to be introduced to this amazing artist.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  17. j_robert

    j_robert

    breathtaking. i saw an amazing documentary about her recently

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  18. lenyvole

    lenyvole

    Such a amazing woman! And her photos are beautiful and sad in the same time.
    almost 2 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, Nederlands & Português.