The Artist's Books
Embossed hardcover using Japanese paper, with tipped-in image
24.5 x 30 cm,
Published by MACK,
Francesca Woodman made her first mature photographs at the age of thirteen and went on to create a body of work that has been critically acclaimed for its singularity of style and innovative approach to photography. Despite her lifetime accomplishments – which included solo and group exhibitions and the publication of one of her books – and her work being celebrated widely in the years since her untimely death in 1981, very little has been published about her remarkable series of artist’s books until now.
Francesca Woodman: The Artist’s Books collects for the first time every page of all eight of Francesca Woodman’s unique artist’s books in one comprehensive volume, including two newly discovered books which have never been seen before, alongside better-known titles such as Some Disordered Interior Geometries. The basis of these works is in tattered nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century journals and notebooks that Woodman collected from bookshops and flea markets in Rome in the late 1970s. She later transformed these found volumes, attaching her prints, transparencies, and written annotations to their evocative pages. These books demonstrate a sophisticated relationship to narrative and sequence and offer a new understanding of the scope of Woodman’s engagement with the book form.
Francesca Woodman (1958 - 1981), a prodigious talent, made her first mature photograph at the age of thirteen and created a body of work that has been critically acclaimed in the years since her death. Born into a family of artists in Boulder, Colorado, she attended public school there. She also spent much of her childhood in Italy, including attending second grade at a public school in Florence and most summers in Antella starting in 1969. Woodman was immersed in and influenced by Italian art, architecture, and culture throughout her life. In 1972-1973, she attended boarding school at the Abbott Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where she discovered photography and began to hone her craft in earnest. She attended Phillips Academy in Andover in 1973-74 and then returned to Boulder, where she graduated from high school in 1975.
Much of Woodman’s work was produced as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, where she studied from 1975-1978. Her sophisticated understanding of photography and her artistic maturity were evident. During this time she had solo exhibitions at Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts in 1976 and her thesis exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery, RISD, in 1978. From 1977-78, Woodman lived in Rome as part of the RISD Rome Honors Program, presenting a solo exhibition at Libreria Maldoror in 1978. She moved to the East Village of New York in 1979 and spent that summer in Stanwood, Washington. In New York, she became interested in commercial fashion photography as a way to potentially support her fine art work, producing a number of “fashion” photographs in 1979 and 1980. She was a fellow at the prestigious MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire during the summer of 1980, after which she returned to New York and continued developing her series of large-scale diazotypes printed on blue or sepia architect’s paper.
During her lifetime, Woodman was included in group exhibitions at Galleria Ugo Ferrante, Rome, 1978; Daniel Wolf, Inc, New York, 1980; and the Alternative Museum, New York, 1980, where she presented the Temple Project. This work, the largest and most complex from her diazotype series, comprises photographs of herself and friends as caryatids among photos of classical architecture and interiors and is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Her artist’s book, Some Disordered Interior Geometries, was published by Synapse Press in 1981.