From 1972 to 1980, artist Francesca Woodman made her mark on the world of art. Though no works would be published before her tragic death in 1981 at the age of 22. Woodman’s art was a series of mainly untitled, black and white photographs. Many of which included herself or another female model sometimes in the nude. Her style was unlike many artists in the way that her works did not focus around a central theme, instead they focus on herself and her inner thoughts and inner “demons” as some may call them.
“Things looked funny because my pictures depend on an emotional state… I know this is true and I thought about this for a long time. Somehow it made me feel very, very good.”
While some of her works are straight to the point, others are a little more abstract. While this may be true, her emotions can still be felt in each of the pictures. She used this as an output for her creativity and her emotions instead of keeping them bottled up. You can tell that these photographs were not planned for anything but an outlet (even though she did want them published) by the lack of titles. These photographs seem to have been only shot in one take. By doing this it was pure emotions being shown in the photographs not just “acting” as those emotions. Through this she really made a connection with the audience.
Woodman and Depression
“Real things don’t frighten me just the ones in my mind do.” – Francesca Woodman
Woodman did suffer depression, which was a great influence on her art. Depression leaves a lot of people with a variety of different emotions and it is different in every case. I believe that her art is a perfect representation of what it is. There is a picture where she is encased in a glass box and someone is on the outside or ones where she is hiding behind the wallpaper of the room. Depression can often times lead one to feel “trapped”, be it not being able to get out of bed to not being able to participate in the things they used to enjoy. This can be especially painful seeing those who are happy and enjoying their lives as they once have. When they do go out, there are times that they try to sink into the background and avoid all social contact.** These kind of situations have been clearly portrayed in her photographs as shown below.
To me, Woodman’s art is what I would like to call tragically beautiful. In many of her works you can see how many trials and tribulations she faces, but presents them in such a beautiful and artistic manner. I have experienced depression both personally and in my friends and family. It’s interesting to see how it affects different people and how they cope with it. I have experienced both of the situations I described above and it was interesting to see that mental state expressed so clearly in just one photograph.
LAST JOURNAL ENTRY
This action that I foresee has nothing to do with melodrama. It is that life as lived by me now is a series of exceptions … I was (am?) not unique but special. This is why I was an artist … I was inventing a language for people to see the everyday things that I also see … and show them something different … Nothing to do with not being able “to take it” in the big city or w/ self doubt or because my heart is gone. And not to teach people a lesson. Simply the other side.
** I do want to emphasize that I am not generalizing the population of those suffering depression. It is important to know that there are actually many different varieties of depression and each one affects the individual differently. These two examples are guesses of what Francesca Woodman was trying to capture through her works based off of personal experience or experiences of those around me.