February 29, 2012
Francis Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 1975 to 1979. In 1977 she received a grant to spend a year in Rome to continue her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design overseas study program at Palazzo Cenci.
She died in 1981, aged just 22, when she threw herself off a building in New York in January 1981, following a long bout of depression. She was just 22, but left an archive of some 800 images, many of which have still not been seen. Her work was discovered in the late ’80s
Francesca Woodman, untitled, Rhode Island, 1975-77.
In the spaces of the old Cerere Pasta factory she found the decadent atmosphere that characterized her photographs, documenting the peeling walls, the traces of the past and the industrial ruins. There is also the modernist exploration of experimenting with shadow and light, flesh and form, stillness and motion.
Francis Woodman, untitled, From Eel Series, Rome, 1977-1978
Her work reveals an interest in the process and an exploration of identity and subjectivity and with signs of performativity, with seriality and repetition, with the scenes often enacted by Woodmanare pre-conceived for the camera. Everything is planned in advance and in detail. She prepares the space for her shooting, she sets up the props and through trials and tests, she builds the frame where she will be in.
Many photographs of Woodman, mostly naked, often posing in empty rooms with peeling paint and fading wallpaper often utilize surrealist props such as mirrors, gloves, birds, and bowls.