"I invented language so people could see": the life and death of Francesca WoodmanBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/i-invented-language-so-people-could-see-the-life-and-death-of-francesca-woodman
Francesca Woodman was only 22 years old when she voluntarily passed away. But the young photographer left behind such a number of talented works that could be enough for two full lives. Her legacy consisted of 800 photographs and more than 10 thousand negatives, looking at which it is hard to believe that their author was almost a child.
During her lifetime, Francesca was an unknown New York artist who was engaged in her favorite thing - photography. The genius of Woodman was talked about after her death. "I invented a language so that people could see," the girl wrote in her diary on January 19, 1981, before stepping through the window of her apartment to meet death. Francesca was right — people saw and now it is impossible to imagine the art of the XX century without her works.
The future genius of photographic performance was born in Denver, Colorado, USA, in the family of artists George and Betty Woodman. Francesca started studying photography at school and devoted all her free time to creativity.
A big role in the formation of Woodman was played by the fact that every summer her family spent in Italy, where the girl could see with her own eyes the beautiful works of painters and sculptors of the Renaissance. Her friends recall that even as a schoolgirl, Francesca was perfectly oriented in the art of the XVI century and knew dozens of masters of that era.
Francesca Woodman entered the Rhode Island School of Art as a fully formed artist. The girl had her own individual style and unique photography technique. She spent one year of her studies on an exchange program in Florence, which turned out to be a real gift of fate.
This period can be called a creative leap and a time of discovery and experimentation. Francesca spent a lot of time at exhibitions, but her favorite place was the Libreria Maldoror bookstore. The first exhibition of the artist was held here, and it was here that Woodman got acquainted with symbolism and surrealism in photography, painting and literature.
Woodman's train of thought, like that of any genius, was unusual. The girl is used to thinking in visual categories and comparing the real with the allegorical and mythological. This excerpt from Woodman's Florentine notes perfectly reflects the unusual course of her thoughts:
Francesca was admired at school, she was envied at college, but at the same time she did not have the slightest success during her lifetime. She died with confidence in her ordinariness and insignificance. Francesca Woodman is an artist of paradoxes. Each of her works is an amazing performance. "I am interested in how people relate to space," she wrote and boldly experimented with volume and emotions.
Woodman made her first attempt to take her own life in 1980, in the fall. Francesca survived and, after being discharged from the hospital, moved to her parents in Manhattan. Shortly before her death, she published a small book, "Some Disordered Internal Geometries," which went unnoticed.
It seemed to Woodman that she was being pursued by an evil fate. At first she was denied a grant, then a bicycle was stolen from the girl. All this happened against the background of a failed romantic relationship and general depression, which came due to unwillingness to take medication.
We can say that Francesca crashed into everyday life, lost to everyday trifles, was not ready to face reality. This led to the fact that the girl made a second suicide attempt, which turned out to be successful. The last photos of the girl are saturated with despair — in them she is confused and devastated, and only walls, riddled with cracks and scraps of wallpaper surround her.