Artist of the Week – Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman was born April 3rd, 1958.  Just like our artist of the week last week, Woodman also died at a young age, being only 22.   It is speculated that she committed suicide due to the fact that her work was not getting noticed.  Francesca Woodman was an American Photographer who was predominantly known for her black and white photographs that pictured herself or other females in a distorted manner, often blending into the background.  She often used surrealist motifs such as mirrors in her images.  Out of about 800 images, only a quarter have been shared with the pubic. Most of her work is what she produced as a student.  It is amazing that she produced such haunting and impressionable images at such a young age.


A majority of her photos are self portraits but it is hard to regard them that way since she is on the verge of disappearing in most of them.  Her ghostly figures are placed in spaces that are in ruin with crumbling walls, dust, dirt and peeling paint.  Her photos have an eerie air to them but at the same time they are deeply emotional.

Her images raise questions (at least for me they do)  like what is going on? What is she feeling? Why is she posed the way she is? Where is she? How am I supposed to feel?  Her photos force us as an audience to consider what we feel, triggering and emotional response.  Her images definitely  get me to take a few minutes to analyze everything that is going on in them.

Her images are vulnerable.  To me it shows a woman who is lost and sad.  She feels like a ghost and there is no solid place her in the world.  A big part of her photography focuses on the setting or background.  Woodman knows the kind of aesthetic she wants to portray.  Like a lot of my classmates on the discussion board, I do think her photos portrayed her depression and insecurities since her self portraits are often twisted and blurry.  Black and white photos dramatize what is going on and creates a mysterious feeling.


My favorite photographs are from Woodman’s Angel series.  The sheets represent angel wings.  At first I viewed these photographs in a much different way.  I took the way her body was distorted and dark as her wanting to blend in a disappear but looking at them more I see these pictures in a more uplifting way.  The use of light and the way in which she jumps is enlightening.


I_203_2, 1/17/11, 11:00 AM, 16G, 2828x2665 (3135+3385), 100%, Custom, 1/60 s, R38.7, G29.7, B41.3

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