I’m trying my hand at fashion photography is the title of the current Francesca Woodman exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery. Named after one of the many notes the artist inscribed on her photographs, the selection focuses on Woodman’s fashion photographs, a genre the artist worked on during her New York years between 1978 and 1980. The works are also notable in their oftentimes stark reflection of the final years of the RISD graduate who committed suicide in 1981 following severe depression, possessing elements from her signature photographic style against the backdrop of her own life.
Positioning herself or another female model in front of an inherently oblique background, Woodman aimed to capture the state of womanhood and the notion of the female subject through a self-reflective gaze. Curated by Alison Gingeras, this selection adds a slightly more commercial and stylistic approach to her profoundly expressive photographs, looking at her artistic discourse from a rarely discussed side. In spite of her short life span and limited artistic exposure, Woodman has been the subject of various global posthumous exhibitions including 2012’s The Guggenheim show Francesca Woodman and an upcoming Moderna Museet exhibition in Stockholm this September.
Today considered one of the most prominent photographers featuring depictions of female identity inspired successive artists, Woodman was heavily influenced by others, among which are Guy Bourdin and most importantly Deborah Turbeville. For Woodman, Turbeville was a major influence, given both artists’ interests in unveiling subtle aspects in their images and, especially important for this exhibition, Turbeville’s success as a fashion photographer.
Surrealism, another major influence for Woodman, always had it its traces in the artist’s photographs, either through performative gestures of her models or her composition technique, charging her frames with a mysterious energy that sits between an allusive gesture and a demure, reserved stance.
Francesca Woodman: I’m trying my hand at fashion photography is on view at Marian Goodman Gallery through March 13, 2015.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Marian Goodman Gallery [Exhibition Page]