Francesa Woodman

Francesca Woodman was an American artist born in 1958. She is known for her self-portraits in black and white. Although her life was short, having committed suicide at the age of 22, she created a substantial body of work of over 800 prints during her life. Her work was influenced by Conceptualism but often compared to Surrealism.

Providence, Rhode Island, 1976

While her work often features motifs such as birds, mirrors and skulls her most prominent pieces are those that feature herself. Although self-portraits are usually used as a platform for the artist to express the personal, Woodman had described her use of herself as her model as “a matter of convenience”. Woodman’s depiction of herself was more to compare the physical self to its surroundings and to explore issues of gender and self.

Untitled, 1975-80

The photographs that feature Woodman as a model typically either features her body half concealed or capture her in a blur of movement. Her ghostly figure in her photographs creates a timeless and ethereal presence implying vulnerability and a disturbed mental state. The small scale of her photographs heightens the feelings provoked and creates and intimacy between the photograph and the viewer.


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