Francesca Woodman (1958 - 1981) is a photographer most well-known for her black and white photos of women. In most of her photos, Woodman shows women in their most vulnerable state: fully nude and on camera. The majority of her photographs show these women nude with blurred faces or faces that have been distorted in some way. Many of her photos also show the use of movement in photographs and long exposures.
Francesca Woodman was born in Denver, Colorado and started taking self portraits at the age of thirteen. She continued to do so until the day of her suicide in 1981 at the age of twenty-two. After spending some time in Washington with her boyfriend, she returned to New York in hopes to make a career in photography. Despite sending in multiple portfolios to fashion photographers, she never was lead anywhere with her work. In late 1980, Woodman became extremely depressed at the lack of attention to her work and a rough break up with her boyfriend. After this, she started living with her parents in Manhattan. On January 19, 1981, Francesca Woodman died by suicide by jumping out of a loft window in a building on the East Side of New York City. Her father has spoken out about believing her suicide was related to lack of funding for her art from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Francesca Woodman is an incredible inspiration to not only my art, but to me as a person. Her photos truly capture my heart, no pun intended. When I look into her photographs I just feel a sense of warmth and pure and total vulnerable love. The fact that her photos are predominately nude women makes me even more attached to her style of photos. My favorite subject matter is women. Although I mostly shoot portraits, her fully nude full frontal body shots are so incredibly unique. They are truly unlike anything I have ever seen and in my opinion, Francesca’s work is some of the best that I have ever seen.
Another reason she inspires me so much is her history of depression. I, myself, have struggled more than not with this aspect of my life and and I always find a sense of comfort in other artists that have dealt with the same things and have been able to create unique art inspired by their pain. Knowing that Francesca took her life at such a young age makes me incredibly sad but also gives me hope for future generations of artists that are dealing with depression. Knowing her life and her story just gives people a person to “Do it for”. What I mean by this is that, for me, I am going to always work through my pain and continue creating art not only for myself, but in her honor.
My absolute favorite photo of Francesca Woodman’s (albeit one of her pretty unknown pieces), is this one of a nude woman in a bathtub. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am extremely drawn to any photos that pertain to women in water, or women in bathtubs to be more specific. To me, the simplicity of this photo is what draws me to it even more than the fact that it is a bathtub. It just feels completely and totally natural. As if Francesca simply walked in, snapped a photo, and left as if nothing ever happened. This woman elegantly floating in this tub with her hair freely laying over the side of the edge is just a one of a kind shot and I simply cannot speak higher of it.
Here is a video about Francesca's work and further information on more of her pieces:
All work courteous of Francesca Woodman