The Story of Francesca
by Charlie

“My name is Charlie Woodman, I am Francesca’s brother and I am 3 years older than she is. I’m a visual artist I work in video mostly, video and performance. I am a professor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati.”

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1976 © George and Betty Woodman

“We were born and raised in Boulder, Colorado and spent a lot of time in Italy as well. Both of my parents are artists. My father is a painter and a photographer and my mother a ceramic artist. We grew up in a family where making art was the most important thing. Francesca and I were both interested in making objects, making images from a very early age. It was not that it was a requirement or even an expectation but simply, nothing else would be as interesting as to do that.”

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Rome, Italy, 1977-78 © George and Betty Woodman

“We grew up going to museums. We were usually given a sketchbook and told to wander around the museum and to draw something for a while.”

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Rome, Italy, 1977-78 © George and Betty Woodman

“Francesca and I were immersed in a world of images. I often thought that both Francesca and I gravitated to the photographic medium as a way out of competing with making ceramic objects or making paintings or drawings. This photographic lens based media were new and kind of contemporary in a way. It was an opportuniy to branch out into a different direction.”

Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait at thirteen, Antella, Italy, 1972, © George and Betty Woodman

“Francesca became interested in photography at High School. We used to go to Italy every summer, my parents bought a house in Antella. We were there for the summers every year. And I think Francesca began taking some pictures while we were there. I have an early print of one that is not in the show. The self portrait at thirteen is a very early piece, and made with a camera that George (father ed.) gave to her.”

Francesca Woodman, Charlie the Model #7, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976-77, © George and Betty Woodman

“Charlie the model is one of series that Francesca did while she was a student at Rhode Island School of Design with Charlie (a model, not her brother ed.). I’ve always been fond of these images. It is a strange ambiguous relationship between these two figures, and an interesting choice on Francesca’s part to reverse the usual interaction with the model in which the model is an object being observed by the artist. Here you have the artist joining the model. These images may have been a little challenging for my parents to see. Not that there is something overtly sexual happening, but it is ambiguous what is happening. You have a sense of a temporal event evolving in these photos, a time-based sequence of events.

Francesca Woodman, Self-deceit #1, Rome, Italy, 1978 © George and Betty Woodman

“Francesca made various series, some of which she sketched in a notebook and made a plan for. I like the series Self-deceit, there is a way in which the figure is disappearring into the architecture. It’s almost vanishing. The ambiguous and not necessarily pristine, architectural space and the flesh of the model are somehow merging together into one surface. The one with the mirror, #2 is quite beautiful as the figure almost disappeared, you just see the reflection of the light in the mirror.”

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1980 © George and Betty Woodman

“In 1980, Francesca spent a month at the MacDowell Colony, the oldest artist colony in the US. This has always been one of my favorites. I particularly like the grouping of all of these little images and the way they are arranged on the page by Francesca. The relationship that is created between these fairly abstractive images, the trees and the figure is fascinating. It’s an attempt to come to grab the landscape at MacDowell: literally with these gestures and the trees. I think it is really different from a lot of Francesca’s other works.”

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, New York, 1979 © George and Betty Woodman

"I was completely unaware of these coloured images until a year or two ago, when a curator wanted to use them for an exhibition. These small prints were overlooked for a long time. This is actually the first time that all of them have been shown. Only a couple were shown before."

Francesca Woodman, (Study for Temple Project), New York, 1980 © George and Betty Woodman

“Diazotype was a new process that Francesca was experimenting with. This was part of the studies for the massive Temple project that she did, seeing body as architecture. She projected glass slides onto paper on the wall in the dark room for hours and processed the paper and printed them as blueprints, which is the way that architects used to print their drawings. It is a quick and easy way to reproduce drawings."

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 © George and Betty Woodman

“When you look at the images you see how thoughtful she was. There is a lot of humour, and I think there is a lot of magic in her work. A word that is not often used in relation to her work. It seems to me as an important element. Francesca as a person was deliberate, considerate and enterprised. She had a lively imagination, and was working out a bunch of ideas.”

Francesca Woodman. On Being an Angel is on show until 9 March 2016.