Photographer Francesca Woodman


New year and finally new blog post! I visited in last September at The Finnish Museum of Photography, where was Francesca Woodman’s exhibition.

Woodman was an American photographer, who died by suicide just at the age of 22. She was born in 1958 and died in 1981. Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island and one year during studies in Rome, 1977-1978. She spoke fluent Italian, because her family has spent summers in Italy. She moved to New York City in 1979 and tried to get work from fashion photographers without result.

In late 1980, Woodman became depressed due to the failure of her work to attract attention and to a broken relationship. She survived a suicide attempt in the autumn of 1980, after which she lived with her parents in Manhattan. On January 19, 1981, Woodman died by suicide, jumping out of a loft window of a building on the East Side of New York. Her father has suggested that Woodman’s suicide was related to an unsuccessful application for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

During her short life Woodman created at least 10,000 negatives, which her parents now keep. Her parents also keep over 800 prints, of which only around 120 images had been published or exhibited as of 2006. Most of Woodman’s prints are 20 by 25 cm or smaller.

Exhibition’s theme in The Finnish Museum of Photography was “being an angel”. Inspiration to that were Duane Michals’ work where was features as blurring, angels and handwriting and the symbolic work of Max Klinger. Other influences to Woodman’s work were for example Gothic fiction, surrealism, André Breton’s novel Nadja, Man Ray and Deborah Turbeville. Woodman was exposed to In combining performance, play and self-exposure, Woodman’s photographs create extreme and often disturbing psychological states.