Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman: No Coincidence


one from Polaroid Series,  Kate Schutz, 1998

Incredible! I have just been alerted by a @museumnerd tweet that there is a Francesca Woodman Retrospective at the Guggenheim, NY while just a hop, skip and a jump away is Cindy Sherman at the MOMA!!!!!!!


 I knew abut Cindy and was already OVER THE MOON to be going to NYC this Friday with plans to check out the show. But now Francesca. I am stunned. Arguably two of the most important female photographers of the 21st century (perhaps a three-way tie with Dorethea Lange?) are celebrated during my visit to NYC?!?! Poor D--he might have to suffer through some museum visits. I will reward him with micro-brew by the casket! 


Untitled Film Still #3, Cindy Sherman,  1977


While in art college, I did a comparison study between Francesca and Cindy. Both exploring self-portrait..but not really. They were photographing themselves dressed in costume, resembling someone else, but no one specific. They created images of women that we know, but not of a particular woman that we could place.  In the late 1970's in NYC, these two women were questioning stereotypes, gender, identity and voyeurism among many many other things. Cindy still explores these ideas today and her work is as profound and disturbing and relevant as ever. Francesca committed suicide at the age of 22 and we are left wondering, today on what would've been her 54th birthday, what would she have thought of her contemporary, Cindy Sherman?These two women are represented at the same time in the same city because of, yes maybe the obvious similarities in their work, but also because now, more than ever, we need these photographs to help us understand ourselves and our culture.  The timing of these shows can't be a mistake. 


At the time of my research paper, on 1998, there were only two books on each artist at our school library and no internet to speak of. I spent intimate hours pouring over the plates in those books and falling in love with the images. How could they not become a major influence? For over a year, I made a series of polaroid collages, a visual diary, that their work gave me the confidence and validation to attempt. I haven't looked at those pieces in years, but now my artistic practice is about to come full circle. 360 degrees: this trip may just be the inspiration I need...




Untitled, Francesca Woodman

Untitled, Francesca Woodman
One from Polaroid Series, Kate Schutz, 1998

1 comment:

Colleen said...

We are going to NYC too this weekend! I had to see the Woodman retrospective. I made Dimitri go to the film The Woodmans with me in Montreal, we were lucky it played here. You would love it.

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