"The Woodmans" Examines the Legacy of Francesca Woodman

Posted by David Ozanich — 21 Jan 2011

woodman.jpgUntitled by Francesca Woodman


The Wall Street Journal examines the Diane Arbus Syndrome in which suicide influences the measure of an artist's work. Francesca Woodman, who killed herself in 1980 at the age of 22 (the same month her first book of photos, "Some Disordered Interior Geometries," was published) is the subject of a new film titled "The Woodmans."

"The Woodmans" also stokes the furnace of myth surrounding Francesca Woodman. Various interviewees (none authorities on contemporary art) describe her as "incredibly original" and "one of the great photographers of the 20th century." But evidence for these statements is less than convincing.


There is no disputing her talent, drive, fearlessness, self-absorption or precocity. She was making photographs by the age of 13 and didn't stop until a few months before her death. The intensity of her commitment frightened some of her high-school teachers in Boulder, Colo., and thrilled her fellow art students at the Rhode Island School of Design. Not many teenagers choose to express themselves through nude self-portraiture, and that seductively goading mode soon became her signature.

"The Woodmans" is at Film Forum in New York until February 1st. After that it will play in limited runs in Providence, Nashville, Chicago and Seattle. View the trailer below.

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