Focusing on the later work of the American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), Claire Raymond takes up the question of the disintegrative condition of the art she produced in the last year of her life. Departing from the techniques of her earlier compositions, Woodman worked in the diazotype process for many of these late pieces, most importantly the monumental Blueprint for a Temple. Raymond shows that through her use of diazotype, a medium that breaks down when exposed to light, Woodman created art that is both supremely evocative aesthetically and inherently unstable physically. Woodman, Raymond contends, was imaginatively responding to the end of the durable image, a historical reality acknowledged in the way her work plays the ephemeral and evanescent against the monumental and enduring. Raymond focuses on the theoretical and the curatorial issues surrounding Woodman's diazotypes, a thematic and practical distress that haunts much of her later art, especially the artist's book and photo series Some Disordered Interior Geometries and Portrait of a Reputation. Rather than conceiving of Woodman herself as fragile, an artist chronicling and seeming to yearn for her own disappearance, Raymond juxtaposes Woodman's career-spanning documentation of her own image against other post-war witnesses of trauma - an artist standing in the museum ruins where she emerges most distinctly as a figure of postmodernity.
Francesca Woodman's Dark Gaze is a luminous investigation of the haunting, monumental "late" works of an artist who would not survive to her twenty-third birthday. Claire Raymond reveals how, at the turn of the millenium, Woodman was in the process of a fierce engagement with experimental photography, the history of art and architecture, and the very nature of image making itself.
Elizabeth Otto, The University of Buffalo, State University of New York, USA, author of Tempo, Tempo! The Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt
Claire Raymond provides a welcome opportunity to delve into the lesser-known sides of Woodman: a chance to revel in the material richness of her oeuvre more than the tragic aspects of her life. Raymond creates new discourses within and between the works, involving architecture, color, and texts that provide a feast for the eye and mind.
Vanessa Rocco, Southern New Hampshire University, USA, co-editor of The New Woman International: Representations in Photography and Film from the 1870s through the 1960s
List of Color Plates v
Introduction: The End of Art and the Question of Legibility
1 The Dark Gaze, Blanchot’s Postwar Aesthetic
2 Caryatids and Silent Girls
3 Sanctuaries and Architectonics
4 Wite-Out: Spectral Geometry and Disorderly Interiors
5 Portrait of a Reputation
6 Photography, After Fashion