The family often traveled to Italy and lived in Florence for a year between 1965 and 1966. Then they returned home to Boulder, Colorado, and Francesca continued her schooling. In 1968 her parents bought a farmhouse outside of Florence in Antella, and there they would spend their summers. Italy and its language, culture, and art history were frequent sources of inspiration for Francesca Woodman.
Woodman started taking pictures as a teenager and had attended a few art courses before she moved to Providence to study at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1975. The college is among the oldest art schools in the United States, and the well-known photographer Aaron Siskind was one of her teachers. While at college, she lived in her studio in an industrial area where many of her pictures from that time were created. Between 1977 and 1978 Francesca Woodman spent a year in Rome as part of the school’s honors program. In the fall of 1978, she earned her BFA and exhibited the series Swan Song (1978) at the graduate show in RISD’s Woods-Gerry Gallery.
Months later, in January 1979, Woodman moved to New York, where she lived at various addresses while looking for work. She spent the summer together with her boyfriend, Benjamin Moore, in Stanwood, Washington. Over the course of the next year, she exhibited her work at a number of smaller galleries and experimented with new techniques such as largeformat diazotypes, and color images. She was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in the summer of 1980. There, she worked on a series of images exploring the relationship between nature and her body, among other projects. In early 1981, her artist’s book Some Disordered Interior Geometries was published by Synapse Press in Philadelphia. This was one of seven notebooks (including photographs that were glued in) that she worked with from 1976 onwards. Francesca Woodman took her own life on January 19, 1981.
The first major retrospective of Francesca Woodman’s work was produced in 1986 by Ann Gabhart in collaboration with Rosalind Krauss for the Wellesley College Museum. It then toured a number of museums at American universities. Her first European exhibition was held in 1992 by Shedhalle in Zurich and the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster and was shown in the spring of 1993 at The Finnish Museum of Photography, in the Cable Factory in Helsinki. On its way there, it stopped for two months at Kulturhuset in Stockholm. The critic Lars O Ericsson wrote in Dagens Nyheter that the exhibition may have been the most important one to see in the capital at the time. To date, at least fifty separate exhibitions of Woodman’s photography have been held in Europe and the United States.
Chronology Francesca Woodman
Born in Denver, Colorado on the 3rd of April.
The family spends a year in Florence, Italy.
Attends public school in Boulder, Colorado.
The family returns to Florence and she attend second grade at public school in Florence.
Attends public school in Boulder.
The family spends the summer in Fiesole and her parents buy a farmhouse in Antella, outside Florence.
The family spends the first of many summers in Antella.
Attends Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
Attends Phillips Academy in Andover.
Completes and graduates from high school in Boulder, Colorado.
Attends Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island.
March, solo exhibition, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts.
April, group exhibition, Photographs and Portraiture, Womanspace, Boulder, Colorado.
Studies in Rome with Rhode Island School of Design Rome Honors Program.
March, solo exhibition, Libreria Maldoror, Rome.
June–July, group exhibition, Cinque Giovani Artisti, Galleria Ugo Ferranti, Rome.
November, BFA exhibition, Swan Song, Woods-Gerry Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design.
January, moves to New York.
Spends summer in Stanwood, Washington.
April, group exhibition, Pictorialism, Daniel Wolf, Inc., New York.
April–May, group exhibition, Beyond Photography ’80, The Alternative Museum, New York.
Spends summer as a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire.
In January the artist’s book Some Disordered Interior Geometries is published.
Commits suicide in New York on the 19th of January.