September 11, 2003

Francesca Woodman

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“In January 1981, Francesca Woodman ended her life. She was not yet 23 years old. Today, over twenty years later, her images are sought after, collected, and respected for their maturity, their engaging yet honest self-examination, their promise. The question will always remain: what talent would she have fulfilled, had she lived?”

So reads the wall-text accompanying the rigidly honest photographic exhibit adorning the walls of the Johnson museum here on Cornell’s eclectic and illustrious campus. Francesca Woodman was an artist who accomplished impressive feats during her short-lived career as a photographer. Many of her photographs take a surrealist approach to life’s mundane characteristics and tasks, and a tempered approach to the texture and contour of the female body, yet many too reveal her juvenile photographic tactics, reminding the exhibit observer that genius can coexist with immaturity and naivet