Francesca Woodman is the kind of artist whose style has been mimicked over and over, to the point where, even if you aren’t familiar with her name, you probably know her style. Achromatic photographs of waifs in deteriorating buildings, often naked, with their forms a little bit blurred. They kind of remind me of Man Ray’s work, except softer. It’s a unique aesthetic, and one that I’m particularly fond of, to the point of obsession.
There’s something about bareness that I love. Nudity can be beautiful, in an asexual sort of way. In fact, one of the reasons I like art that depicts nudes is because it often comes across as being devoid of eroticism. What I like about is its blankness, its sense of absence. Even though a lot of her paintings don’t hide much (which, for the sake of not corrupting minors, I am not going to put up here), there’s little that’s explicit about them. Revealing, yes, but just as much internally as they are externally. You often have a lot of artists looking for any excuse to depict naked people for less-than-savoury reasons, but Woodman’s photography has much more depth to it.
Many of my favourite artists are the ones who can intertwine both style and substance. As I wrote above, Woodman has had a lot of imitators, and while they excel at the former, they tend to neglect the latter. I do enjoy their work, but they don’t achieve much beyond looking pretty. Woodman’s art is aesthetically pleasing on a more adult level.
I often worry that, if this sort of trend keeps on going, her work will end up looking trite and cliched. And if it does, I’ll be partially responsible because, even before I knew of her, I loved putting stuff like nudes, doorways and wallpaper into my writing. (Then again, I’m a terrible writer, so none of my stories will ever get published, anyway.) I know that the quality of her pictures will never decay, but it’s still a shame that everything unique eventually just gets done to death.
She really reminds me of KatieJane Garside in this one.
I don’t know that much about Woodman herself, and while I am going to do some research on her, a large part of me doesn’t want to. Sometimes, I’ll come across a book or a film that looks really interesting, and then I’ll end up slightly disappointed when I do read/watch it, because while it was good, it wasn’t as good as I imagined it would be. It’s probably silly of me, but I don’t want the same thing to happen with her. The one thing I do know about Woodman is that she committed suicide when she was twenty-two years old. Her photos are so fragile and youthful that they’re almost all like pictures of her suicide.