Francesca Woodman (American, 1958–1981) was a photographer known for the black-and-white photos in which she and other female models posed. Woodman was born on April 3, 1958, in Denver, CO. Her parents were the artists George Woodman (American, b.1932) and Betty Woodman (American, b.1930). She attended a private boarding school, and it was there where she began developing her artistic photographic skills. Woodman spent summers with her family in Italy. In 1975, Woodman began attending the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. Two years later, she traveled to Rome as part of a RISD honors program. She returned to America in 1978 and graduated from RISD. The following year, Woodman relocated to New York, NY, to pursue a career in photography.
Many of the more than 800 prints produced by Woodman during her lifetime are untitled. Most of her works are known only by date and location. Many of Woodman’s photographs depictnude women and blurred images. Models in her photographs are often seen merged with their surroundings. Faces are also frequently obscured in her photos. Woodman’s photos were influenced by a variety of factors, including Gothic fiction and Surrealism. She was also influenced by artists Man Ray (American, 1890–1976) and Duane Michals (American, b.1932). Among Woodman’s most well-known photos are her Polka Dots works, in which she appears wearing a polka dot dress.
In 1980, Woodman became an artist-in-residence at McDowell Colony. During this time, she continued to send portfolios to photographers with no success. As a result, she became depressed later that year and attempted suicide. Following the failed suicide attempt, Woodman lived in New York with her parents. For a while, her depression seemed to improve. Woodman applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant application was later rejected. On January 19, 1981, at the age of 22, Woodman jumped from a window and died. Her estate is now managed by her parents. The Marian Goodman Gallery of New York represents more than 800 of Woodman’s prints.