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I can count the number of times that I have found myself completely arrested by someone’s brilliance. Last week, I had one of those moments. It was a moment in which I felt myself lingering; feeling the very core of my body and mind wanting to stay present with what I was experiencing. After being treated to a librarian’s summer book preview at Simon & Schuster, I took advantage of the library’s museum pass program and found my way to the Guggenheim. It was there that I found my way to Francesca Woodman.
Woodman has been receiving posthumous accolades recently as her penetrating and evocative photographs, taken mostly during her time as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design (1975 - 1978), have been on exhibit, first in San Francisco (Museum of Modern Art), and now, in New York (on view through June 13). Featuring, primarily, self-portraiture with a gothic flair, Woodman’s gifts as an artist are blatant. Her untimely demise (she committed suicide at the age of 22), is a tremendous loss for us all. Her choices to portray women through the lens of how they are viewed by men; and the melding of the decrepit architecture, in which she chose to shoot, with peeling layers of wallpaper, and her own form, are truly breathtaking.
"It was not only her body that she exposed — she bared her soul too, and that is a rare and beautiful thing." (Ken Johnson's New York Times review of the exhibit)
To articulate the beauty of Woodman's work through words is a difficult feat, but to bear witness to it is a gift. Check out a pass before June 13th, and experience it yourself. While you're at it, put a hold on the Woodman catalogue, which features reproductions of the work on display.
Photo by Kristin Friberg.