Tag Archives: artist

Francesca Woodman


Photo by Francesca Woodman. This linked image is available to view on: http://www.heenan.net/woodman

I have just been reading about Francesca Woodman and looking at her images sadly Woodman died at a very early age and I am sure that had she lived she would have been successful as an Artist.

Susan Bright, comments, “It is difficult not to read Woodman’s self-portraits as alluding to a troubled state of mind.”

Looking at Woodman’s images I see a mixture of fantasy with pathos.  There is a feeling of melancholy and vulnerability in her poses.  There are a lot of nudes, but the images are not about the nude body but the nakedness and perhaps this was a reflection of how she felt.

I can only guess at her thoughts based upon her tragic end and not having read her diaries but this is what I read from the photographs.

However, I find Woodman’s photos both a little erotic and disturbing.  Woodman clearly had a lot of pent up sexual-tension with an artistic voice wanting to be heard.  If I was to say that there was an element of narcissism in Woodman’s photos I think I would be wrong.  I think that she was probably insecure about herself and her looks, yes she was very self-indulgent which may sadly have lead her to her death.  I think that Woodman’s images don’t need accompanying text for the images to be appreciated.

I wonder however, that Woodman clearly had mental-health issues and perhaps the wider issue is the stigma attached to this form of health-issue and the lack of understanding and help for sufferers.  Many artist suffer from depression as many artists by there nature are bipolar in some degree and perhaps educational institutions such as schools and colleges / universities should also watch for this and offer counselling and support.  Woodman committed suicide in 1981 and over 30 years later we are still loosing talent through our lack of understanding of how to help.

Hitchcocks, The Lodger.

Ivor Novello

The trailer to ‘The Lodger’.

Last week I watched an interesting documentary at the cinema about the interview and resulting friendship between Francois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock.  The documentary was about Hitchcock’s genius as a film director, which until Truffaut sang his praises was largely being ignored and undermined.

After watching the documentary, I purchased, ‘The Lodger‘ which is Hitchcock’s first film with his recognisable style. (he had made several others films before this one; but this is the first movie that was all his own.)

This was made in 1926 and is silent.  Hitchcock, keeps the text to a minimum, using clever composition and symbols to carry the narrative.  This is film making at it’s purist and at the height of it’s craft.  Although I am a still photographer, I look for ideas from the film makers who were inventing ideas that still photographers are today discussing and adopting.

In this image taken from the film, the lodger who is suspected as a serial killer looks out from his window and Hitchcock has cleverly cast a shadow of a crucifix on his face.

The film begins with this image, a girl is drowning, a victim of ‘The Avenger’.  Hitchcock set the camera facing up under a plate of glass and got the girl to lay facing down over the glass a lens.

In this scene the lodger, Ivor Novello, is pacing up and down in his room disturbing the others in the house.  Hitchcock, used a glass floor for Novello to walk on and super-imposed that image with the chandelier rocking by his heavy steps.

This was a cleaver idea, but Hitchcock didn’t think that it worked too well, he wanted the van to look like a face with the heads of the driver and mate as the eyes, the newspaper sign for a nose and the cars chrome bumper as the mouth.

As a story, perhaps a little naïve for today’s standards but enjoyable all the same.  If you are interested in film making it has to be one to watch.  Hitchcock couldn’t understand why with the advent of sound so much visual film making skills were quickly forgotten to be replaced with too much un-necessary dialogue.  He was always the believer that if you could tell it in pictures why explain it with dialogue.  It has been said that with a Hitchcock film, even his later ones, the story can still be followed with the sound turned down.  Now that is an artist in my book!

 

Behind the Image

Basics_Creative_Photography_Behind_the_image

Behind the Image by Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana, published by AVA.

I have just read through this book for a second time.  The first time was in Spain when I began the Art of Photography course and at that time I was concentrating on more technical aspects of photography such as lighting, composition, design, colour and exposure.  Returning to this book for a second time the information now seems more relevant to me; and although some of the practices preached in this book I am now already using, there is a great deal more for me to try to put in to regular practice and make part of my working routine.  Moreover, there are useful websites for photo-book suppliers and examples of other Artist blogs to look and compare.  I am glad that I re-visited this book at this time.

Research point – Paul Seawright’s ‘Sectarian Murders’.

The work of Paul SeawrightSectarian Murders‘ (http://www.paulseawright.com/sectarian) is and interesting example where a photographic artist has challenged the boundaries of documentary photography by taking images that are only linked by extracts from newspaper reports and the locations in the images.  The images themselves don’t offer clues to their context until the text and images are tied together.  However, the photographers choices of view points creates both an interesting design element to the pictures for an art point of view and the linking text creates a context for a narrative that the viewer can construct themselves.

Seawright’s argument is that to create good documentary photography for an art gallery he must produce interesting images that do not give up their full meaning in one glance.  He suggest such images are advertising or journalistic editorial images chosen for their impact.  He argues that a good artist never makes plain the message in a picture and by leaving a ‘space’ in his images he allows the viewer to construct their own narrative to the images meaning.  This is not a new idea, a visit to any art gallery and viewing many a painting by masters old and contemporary will demonstrate this practice in use.  This is a cleaver and imaginative form of documentary photography.

I do not necessarily believe that by defining a piece of documentary work as a art will change its meaning.  We can define anything as art, I think that what we currently term art is something that is considered suitable for a public display in a gallery or a book.  Therefore, images of the burning Hindenburg, Neil Armstrong on the moon, a starving Ethiopian child suitable framed and displayed becomes an image of art and exhibited in a  chosen context these images can build their own narrative subject to that context and the viewers own imagination.