Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Rome Journal: Francesca Woodman

 Il Museo del Louvre (photo: Hallie Cohen)

Il Museo del Louvre in heart of Rome’s Jewish ghetto has nothing to do with the Louvre, nor is it a museum. Rather it’s a  "Liberia Galleria" specializing in artistic and primarily cinematic artistic erotica. You will find Ilona Staller, otherwise known as La Cicciolina, amongst the nudes on the wall. Naturally a photo of Pasolini stands like the Christ figure in the church of transgressive art. It’s really a tiny cramped space with both photos and books that have passed the test of time. In the background a curator can be heard fulminating against capitalism. If you’re willing to risk the narrow winding metal staircase that shakes with each step, you’ll come to an exhibit devoted to Francesca Woodman. Woodman was a prodigiously talented photographer and child of two well-known artists who took her life by jumping out of a window in1981, at the age of 22. Woodman’s palette was primarily herself, in the nude. It’s appropriate that this precious show, which also includes some nude portraits of her by the photographer Stephan Brigidi, should be in Rome since Italy was a place where Woodman spent her formative years. Like Eva Hesse, an artist who also died at a young age, her posthumous work created a mythology despite the fact that the acceptance she sought from both in the world of fashion photography and from institutions like the NEA eluded her. It has, in fact, been said that the disappointments of her young life contributed to her death--though attempts to seek existential causes for the pathologies of those suffering from deep depression inevitably fall short of the mark. In an odd way the irony that attends the grandiosity of this exhibit space's name is a fitting resting place for Francesca Woodman's legacy. 

read "Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Bird on a Wire" by Tim Hardin

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