Also crucial to her development in Rome was Woodman’s association with the Maldoror bookstore in Via di Parione, which specialised in avantgarde literature of the twentieth century as well as more obscure books on subjects including the fantastical and the grotesque. Woodman spent hours in the shop, learning more about early twentieth-century artistic and literary movements. Her first Italian solo exhibition took place in the bookshop’s basement gallery space.
The exhibition will explore Woodman’s fusion of Italian classicism with aspects of narrative and performance. In Italy Woodman extended her development of classical subject matter, predominantly the female nude and tropes of still life and classical composition. At the same time she was enhancing and extending her use of narrative and performative strategies. This is evident in her use of series of images, crucially in Self-deceit, 1978, which features scenarios where Woodman refers to classical and surrealist sculptural poses using her own naked body and a single prop, a rough-edged piece of mirrored glass. Further important series Woodman worked on during this time include the Angel series, which she commenced in Providence but extended in works made in the Cerere, and Eel Series, 1978, likely created in Venice on one of her frequent visits to the city.
Bringing these diverse works to Venice for the first time reveals the ways in which Italy and its culture underscored the development of an artist whose work has garnered exceptional public and critical interest in the 37 years since her untimely death.
About the artist
Born in 1958 in Denver, Colorado, Francesca Woodman lived and worked in Providence, Rhode Island, New York and Italy until her death in 1981. Significant posthumous solo presentations include On Being an Angel, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015–2016), touring subsequently to Foam, Amsterdam (2016), Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris (2016), Moderna Museet, Malmo (2016– 2017) and Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki (2017); Francesca Woodman, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2011– 2012), touring to Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); Francesca Woodman: Retrospective, Sala Espacio AV, Murcia, touring to SMS Contemporanea, Siena (both 2009); Francesca Woodman: Providence, Roma, New York, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2000); Francesca Woodman, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, touring to Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (both 1998); Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal (1999); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (1999); Centro Cultural TeclaSala, L’Hospitalet, Barcelona (1999–2000); Carla Sozzani Gallery, Milan, (2001); The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2001) and PhotoEspana, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid (2002). Woodman's work is represented in the collections of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Tate/National Galleries of Scotland. Current exhibitions include Life in Motion: Egon Schiele / Francesca Woodman, Tate Liverpool, UK until 23 Sep 2018.