Most artists need an entire lifetime to build their careers. The case of the photographer Francesca Woodman is exceptional: it took her less than a decade to create a body of work that has brought her cult status. Thirty years after her suicide at age 23, the forcefulness of her work continues to fascinate and unsettle.
Born in Boulder, Colorado in 1958, Francesca left behind 800 negatives that her parents ? ceramicist Betty Woodman and painter George Woodman ? guard with extreme zeal. That is why each new release has become an artistic event in its own right.
The most recent one was the publication of 10 previously unseen images now on display at La Fábrica until January 21. The Madrid gallery is also showing a further 10 shots in an exhibition called Unseen photographs and selected works.
Her work represents that "tumultuous and provisional moment" before real maturity
The new images were also included in a show that opened last November at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) ? the first Woodman retrospective in two decades, and one that helps understand the special state of grace of her brief creative period: "Although she was unusually gifted and precocious, the whole of her career represents an artist on the edge, neither a mature woman nor an innocent child, but rather at that tumultuous and provisional moment prior to real maturity," wrote Corey Keller, the curator of photography at SFMOMA, in her essay A portrait of the artist as a young woman.
The unseen images now on display at La Fábrica explore the issues that the artist was interested in ever since she began taking her first photos at age 13 and experimenting with a medium then only recently introduced to fine arts schools in the 1970s. Woodman explored the female body, dramatization, surrealism and self-portraiture as a genre unto itself, since she is the subject of all her own images.
"We should underscore that her actions were the object of the photographs; she was not interested in the action itself, except to photograph it. In that sense, we need to separate her actions from performances," says Efraín Bernal, director of La Fábrica. The shots are printed on silver gelatin and their prices range from 4,000 to 6,000 euros.