Francesca Woodman and the burden of art...
I'm quite surprised to have only just discovered this young photographer, who tragically took her life at 22 leaving behind some remarkable work. In many ways her photographs are almost proto-Flickr. That adolescent female obsession with moody self-portraits that's become an all too familiar trademark here. Of course, Francesca Woodman's work is somewhat more expressive and mature - in the artistic sense and in terms of craft.
I'm just beginning to look at her work, but after reading quite a few articles on her, I have to admit being more fascinated by her story. It's one of pushy parents and art becoming more important than life.
If anyone has seen it and knows of her work, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Also, if anyone could let me know where I could watch it, that would be a bonus!
I started a thread on the Large Format Photography Forum a few weeks ago on the show PBS is/was showing called 'The Woodmans'. People seemed to have pretty strong feelings about it all. The show is also available on Netflix if it is no longer on PBS. I liked the show, cringed at the parents and thought Francesca's work was pretty interesting. Seemed to me that if the parent's weren't so self-obsessed, they would have known their daughter was headed for trouble. But the fact that the family profited so much from her suicide was troubling.
I've watched some clips on the PBS website, but it's not available on Netflix here in the UK. Something struck me about the clips and got me thinking about the nature of the artist and how difficult it is for them to survive today. It seems she had the real sensitivity and pureness of spirit of a true artist (unlike her parents it seems), which was destroyed in the end by their attitudes and that of the art world she was trying to get into. The fact that she was able to produce such great work in spite of this is surprising. It seems to confirm my idea that artists should work in complete obscurity today.
I too saw the show on PBS.
I'm not totally sure that "self-obsessed" is the right term for the parents, although it is at least partly right.
Both parents are and were artists, apparently consumed by their own art. The way it struck me was that they seemed to consider what their daughter was going through to be in some ways "normal" and, once they realized she was in trouble, unable to see that their daughter's art wasn't the healing "therapy" that she needed, even if might have been the sort of therapy they would have sought for themselves.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Looking at some of her work I got the distinct feeling of a lonely child, craving attention, precocious, and needing love, taking nudes of herself to try to gain the attention of first her parents, then anyone. Very self indulgent, and slightly unhinged.
The descriptions of the "artsy" types who later "discovered" her after her death sounds much like a curator at an art exhibit, who gayly describes in great detail what the artist was thinking and trying to achieve. When actually, the picture was accidentally taken while loading up the camera.
Anyways, here is more info on her...http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog...cesca-woodman/
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
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Isn't that what you just did?
Originally Posted by blansky
Anyway I saw the PBS doc and it was the first I had heard of Francesca. I love her work and think it is brilliant, and having known many people of different circumstances who have killed themselves I don't blame her parents, myself or Obama for her sad exit. It's just the cost of that kind of sensitivity and creative brilliance, sometimes, unfortunately.
I saw about her elsewhere and just got the recent book. Interesting. . . I have a pile of my own pix from about the same time (my own surreal blurry self-images in dilapidated rooms are from 1972, I think) that are similar, even to being shot on 6x6. I think that was not unusual, and a definite trend in the early 70s. What influenced me at the time was Duane Michaels. Get a bit down the page on this link, and you see a lot of stuff that's similar, but almost certainly predates Woodman's, (and mine of course--I'm only claiming to be one of many nobodies following the same trend): http://zoonzum.blogspot.com/2010/01/...oes-duane.html
Last edited by mdarnton; 01-19-2012 at 10:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I haven't seen the show yet, but if any of you are in San Francisco, here show is at the MOMA.
Hoping to go on Saturday...
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
2012 Workshop Schedule Online
Thanks, Duane is also new to me and I like what I've googled so far. I can definitely see where he probably influenced Francesca, but
Originally Posted by mdarnton
she shines in her own right.