Francesca Woodman was am America photographer who lived from 1958 until 1981. She was born in Colorado to George and Betty Woodman both of who were artists. Charles, her brother started teaching electronic art. In Boulder, Francesca studied at a public school from 1963 to 1971. A year later, she went to Abbot Academy in Massachusetts. At this institute she started to develop her skills in photography and became engrossed in art. She completed her education in 1975 and then embarked on to the next level of her education once her foundation became strong. In the same year, Francesca Woodman joined the Rhode Island School for Design, Providence. From 1977 to 1978, she did her honors program of RISD in Rome. She could fluently speak Italian and hence she became friends with Italian artists and intellectuals. In 1978, she returned to Rhode Island to complete her graduation.
One year later, she went to New York to begin her photography career. She sent fashion photographers her portfolio but to no avail. In 1980, In Peterborough, at the MacDowell Colony, Woodman became artist-in-residence. Her unemployment and unsuccessful relationship caused her to commit suicide. Years after she attempted to suicide when she was 22 years old, Woodman’s work gradually came in the limelight. She received attention from audience and critical acclaim.
Several photographs shot by Woodman have no particularly creative titles, they are known only by date and location. She experimented with various types of camera and formats of film while working but many of her pictures were made using a camera of medium format. She created negatives numbering up to 10,000. The estate owned by Woodman consists of 800 photo prints. From these, only 120 photos have been exhibited or published since 2006.
Since her suicide in 1981, her work has been remarkably acknowledged by the contemporary art world especially, the late photographer’s black and white images of young women often expressing through nudity. Some of her photographs were shot with long exposure and slow shutter speed. Among the photos, are self portraits as well however her face is mostly obstructed often with sporadic presence of men.
Along similar aesthetics as her photographs, she also made short films. She was profoundly interested in Neo-Pictorialism and Surrealism and this fascination was witnessed in Woodman’s work through motifs, ghostly effects and abstraction.
Five years after her death, her work was exhibited for the first time at Wellesley College once it was found in Woodman’s property by Wellesley Art Museum’s director, Ann Gabhart. A retrospective of her work opened in 2011 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and moved in 2012 to Guggenheim. Moreover, a documentary was made on the family titled The Woodmans, directed by C. Scott Willis. It released in 2010.
In Addition, Francesca Woodman’s everlasting collection of work is present in Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston; Museum of Modern Art; and National Galleries of Scotland. Well-known artists cite her work as a stimulation for theirs.
Woodman’s work was only archived in one book, Some Disordered Interior Geometries. It was released into the market days before her death.
When she was at RISD, Woodman produced videotapes with a video camera borrowed from someone. Some of this work was shown in Finland at the Helsinki City Art Museum and in New York at Marian Goodman Gallery, 2004; in Miami at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, 2005; in London at the Tate Modern, 2007; and in 2011 at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.