Francesca was clearly troubled but is this is not verified by her photography. Yes her work is different to most I see and that which I like and to the untrained eye her images can be quickly dismissed. However I feel that her work needs to be looked at over time to appreciate it in full. The majority of her images are black and white and a lot are 8 x 10 in dimension. She appears to use the full array of greys that are in between pure black and brilliant white, but without having a set style.
Looking into her background, both parents were artists and this will also have had some influence on her work, as will her settings including the time she spent in Italy and at her home in the USA.
Is her work a cry for help? Not for me. I feel t is somewhat exhibitionist as in the image below.
Woodman is said to have been a feminist, which I can understand, given her images contain many a female nude (mainly herself) but is she exploring her sexuality in a time when this would have been frowned upon? A lot of her work was shot in dilapidated, empty buildings, where she used props to create her images. She was also a great believer in slow shutter speeds, hiding her identity from the viewer. In the image above her identity is also hidden.
Bright, 2010, appears to suggest that her suicide and her mental health were the driving force behind her images, which I feel is harshened not 100% accurate. Yes, her mental health may have played some role, as it does for all photographers, but it is not the overarching meaning and reason behind her images. She may have been trying to tell her parents and friends, through the medium of photography, how she felt about her sexuality and an apparent feeling of emptiness, as depicted by the surroundings she chose. Her shots were planned out, sometimes weeks and months in advance and were even sketched. Her contact sheets were also annotated.
Her suicide has given her cult status in the same way as James Dean’s death, but for me her mental state is not the fullness of her work.
I am not a lover of her work, yet I actually like the images she has created when using the slower shutter speeds. They speak more to me than the other images and make me ask questions such as, why the heels, what is the significance of the straight arms, where was it taken, where is the door she is stumbling though?
Would she be as famous if she were alive and did not end her life so tragically and has the internet helped her notoriety grow?