Francesca Woodman - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    From the Estate of the artist
    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York; to the present Private Collection, Connecticut

  • Exhibited

    Francesca Woodman, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 5 November 2011- 20 February 2012 traveling to Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,
    New York, 16 March- 15 June 2012, another print exhibited

  • Literature

    Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Francesca Woodman, back cover and p. 113
    Phaidon, Francesca Woodman, p. 154
    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Francesca Woodman, p. 69and cat. 81

  • Catalogue Essay

    Since her death in 1981, Francesca Woodman’s photographs have been studied and celebrated for their critical dialogue with the history of art, examination of the body in relation to the space occupied and the complexities of self-portraiture. While her life and career were short, her distinct body of work reveals her quick and impressive evolution as a photographer with varying influences from Surrealism to Conceptualism and Post-minimal art.

    In the present lot, Untitled, Rome, 1977-1978, Woodman covers the lower half of her body with dirt to fuse herself with the space around her, thus minimizing the literal and figural gap between background and foreground. In many ways, it could be read as an attempt to disappear as she fades into the wall against which she stands and by doing so, she demands that her skin be read in relation to it. In its texture and dimensionality, the wall’s surface evokes Aaron Siskind’s images of stripped paint and its subsequent sense of palpable texture. It is therefore no surprise to learn that Woodman was a student of Siskind’s at the Rhode Island School of Design. By incorporating Siskind’s teachings into her own body of work, Woodman innovatively merged elements of abstract expressionism into her self-portraits. Likewise, in Untitled, Rome, 1977-1978 (lot 141) we see her figure as it hangs from a doorway, perhaps a metaphor for the transitional space between two states of being. That her face is turned and subsequently concealed by her arm speaks to the same notion of disappearance, a reading which is enhanced by our knowledge of her pending suicide.

  • Artist Biography

    Francesca Woodman

    American • 1958 - 1981

    During her brief 22 years, Francesca Woodman created an extraordinary body of work, exploring gender, selfhood and the body in relation to its surroundings. Woodman often experimented with a slow shutter speed, which slightly blurred and distorted her body as it moved throughout the exposure, creating a haunting, almost ghost-like effect. Her ethereal presence draws our attention to traditional depictions of the body, forms of portraiture and self-portraiture, illuminating the desire for self-preservation against the passing of time. 

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Untitled, Rome

Gelatin silver print.
7 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (18.4 x 18.4 cm)
This print is one of 6 known lifetime prints of this image.

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $52,500

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs
[email protected]
+ 1 212 940 1245


4 April 2012
New York