Francesca WoodmanExhibition |
Haunting photography from a melancholy soul.
For a collection so heavily defined by its uniform aesthetic, the Guggenheim's retrospective of Francesca Woodman, an American photographer who created primarily in the 1970s, can surprisingly be viewed from a myriad of perspectives. The museum introductions seem to push a cerebral focus. That's not unwise, since Woodman's emphasis on self-portraits and conceptual series provide much space to consider feminine identity, self-presentation and bodily objectification. However, for many, this framework will be less resonant than the haunting feeling that comes from knowing the artist committed suicide at the age of 22. Indeed, all of these 120 photographs - from the early silver gelatin prints to the later, large-scale Caryatid series - share an aggressive melancholy and pensiveness. Yet perhaps the most affecting element is the domineering aesthetic itself. The photos are all black-and-white, and the smaller ones in particular showcase Woodman's unique ability to suggest stylized gothic horror through intricately staged compositions. Rather than coming off as expressions of depression, the photographs reveal an artistic precision reflecting her interest in shadow, claustrophobia, and crumbling houses. No matter which perspective most grips you in Woodman's work, you'll surely find it unquestionably evocative.