The Fondation Henri Cartier Breson revisits the photographer Francesca Woodman with a thematic overview exhibition of her work titled “on Being an Angel.” (until July 31, 2016). Woodman (1958-1981) is known for her enigmatic stage-managed blurred black and white photos featuring either herself or female models often nude. Her intimate autobiographical approach to the medium has inspired a generation of young photographers.
Her photography made almost exclusive use of her own body: “It’s a matter of convenience,” she explained, “I’m always available.” Despite her premature passing at the age of twenty-two, Woodman left an impressive body of work. Much of it done while she was a photo student at RISD. And while the pictures betray a host of influences ranging from Symbolism to Surrealism, her own talent was as prodigious as it was precocious.
It’s hard to look at Woodman’s photos without thinking of her suicide. She has been called the Sylvia Plath of photography. Her staging in desolated rooms, her ghostly body presence in the middle of spaces in decay, the abandoned houses with surreal peeling paint and ripped wallpaper are at once intense, a little naive, gothically dark and tinged with melancholy. For some “On Being an Angel” will be as much about Woodman’s pictures as a contemplation of the short life of an extremely talented young photographer starting out during the late seventies.
Francesca Woodman, On Being An Angel, to July 31, 2016, Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, 2, Impasse Lebouis, 75014 Paris