Saturday, March 31, 2012

Francesca Woodman notes

Preliminary ideas

Francesca Woodman is definitely the sort of artist whose work is overshadowed by her life. I'm forced to wonder if I ever would have seen her photographs if not for her life story, and it tempts to think that I would have been among those who were aesthetically insightful enough to recognize her genius, while the rest of the dopes need a human interest story to draw them in and imbue with "authenticity" and "real feeling" -- what the middlebrow art consumer is looking for in works rather than some higher-order formal achievement. They need to view art through biography to give it meaning, while I have some higher poetic power to discover meaning qua meaning in the abstract.

So Woodman's work occasions a temptation to a particular snobbery, a particular fantasy about possessing a particular special insight, which ironically enough is probably what Woodman must have felt pressured to feel herself, an isolating superiority, a terror of being pleased by what pleases the vulgar crowd, a horror of discovering that there is nothing special in the way you see things, that you have no eye that elevates you to distinction.

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