Sunday, March 6, 2011

Francesca Woodman: Crumbling Walls And Suicide

In January 1981, a girl of twenty-two leaped to her death in New York. Francesca Woodman left a haunting legacy of crumbling walls and haunting self portraits: eight hundred pieces. The top two are mine from Victoria Miro, the next was the cover of for a Christie's Photographic auction.  Using herself "because I'm always available." 

It's been thirty years ... the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is doing a retrospective of her work this year which will move to the Guggenheim.

Her story is here.


  1. Sad and haunting... but lovely.

  2. Such a shame, she could have really bean a great artist. Really did some great stuff in sucha a short life.
    First time I hear about her, but definitely a great discovery.


  3. Madeleine this is your magic. You bring to my world artists i've never heard of, photographers, designers, ect...and honour their work. I love that about you.
    Her work is so haunting and to die at such a young age a tragedy. The video that featured the voices of her family was especially interesting. Thank God she was in a family that understood and respected her. Fascinating post.

  4. Cupcake, sometimes I miss having a shop .. the moments that designers emerge early in their career are so hard to explain. You're not hungry, you're not tired, sometimes you feel like crying.

    Thank you for your words, I'm so touched. That's what I've done passionately, and not always profitably.

    Simple joy.Living around beauty ...

  5. This is a beautiful blog post. I may have to go into NYC to see this when it comes to town. You are always expanding our cultural horizons. Thank you for sharing this with us. I agree with Cupcake 100% xoxo

  6. Her work is so beautiful and prescient of a generation of other women who would use themselves for their art. The horror of this very beautiful girl leaping to her death ...

    There's so much sadness and hurt in the world.

    Her work is the first thing I see in the morning, well once beyond the happy eagerness of dogs and cats.

  7. wow- haunting indeed.

  8. Hauntingly beautiful. Have you gone to the retrospective yet? It must be quite something to see the bulk of her collection in one place at once. I'd probably have a hard time taking it all in...

  9. Hi it's actually Woodman, not Woodward. It's Francesca Woodman.

  10. Miss B, thank you. I do that all the time, awful.

  11. amazing!!!


    xoxo from rome

  12. Such an amazing tale about an incredibly gifted woman, I just sat back and inaudibly went "wow". You share the most unique and fascinating people and their accomplishments, it is one reason I am such a fan. Thank you for broadening my horizons. Again. :)

    May your week to come be terrific,

  13. Dear Preppy P, thank you ... you are too kind!! Your work makes the world a prettier place with happiness!!

  14. This is such an original post. A sad and haunting story of grief and talent. It leaves me speechless after reading her story, watching those videos and seeing her mysterious black and white photography. It seems so poetic, unreal. I fall short of words to describe what it feels like after getting to know this woman through hers and others memoirs. This blog has quality. Definitely. Not just the shallow FW posts I see everywhere. Needless to say, I'm following you on bloglovin.
    PS: I don't mean to imply that you should follow me back or whatever. I just thought I'd let you know your posts are highly appreciated. Btw, are you on twitter?

  15. Never mind. I saw the widget in the sidebar...

  16. Nina, you are so lovely. Thank you for your words and I'm so happy this resonates with you. She's a cult artist with few pieces carefully released to auction and the exhibition traveling to the Guggenheim will entrance people that hadn't heard of her.

  17. Hi,

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  18. Wow, that was very artisic, I really enjoyed it.

  19. I find Francesca Woodmans photos incredibly captivating.They are right up my alley,I just really like the style and mood of them, that dreamy atmospheric vibe.They have been called enigmatic,ethereal,haunting--just really creative and interesting.Some ofthem are downright disturbing.In her younger years it seemed as if she was just full of raw talent but later something just broke and if some of the images reflect psychological states they could be seen as downright depressing.
    What is interesting to me is that I was also in high school photography around the same time as her,the late 70s ( I am two years younger.) I thought I was pretty talented but geez,compared to her stuff mine was just really generic,with the standard 'poses' and such.I wish I had experimented more.I certainly never explored the idea of fooling around with exposure times and such,wow wish I had.I wish I had done more self portraits,just seen myself in different lights.I think I had inclinations toward surrealism and such but just was too young and unaware to explore it.I wish I had just gotten more creative with the self portraits.They would have been nice to have years later---

  20. They are haunting, some disturbing and yet that ethereal beauty always. Such an extraordinarily deep range of work, so many produced before her mysterious (always questions about her childhood and death) death at age twenty-two.

    Francesca maybe was a savant with lighting and her way of structuring herself into a shot.



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