Francesca Woodman, Roma 1978

Francesca Woodman, Roma 1978

Woman with Large Plate, 1978

The model for this photograph was Francesca Woodman, herself a remarkably capable photographer. I asked Francesca to model with the plate.  I was working from my Fulbright grant support and doing some spotty teaching at the RISD Rome program.  Francesca was in her senior year at the Rhode Island School of Design.

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The setting was her apartment in Rome on the Via Dei Coronari, which I happened to be subletting at the time.  I had been doing a small series of simple confrontational female nude studies, most involved a simple object held or worn.

The plate was a large antique one from the Puglia region of Italy, borrowed from a friend just for this occasion.  I had tried this object with another model, and it failed.  It felt more forced so another attempt was made using Francesca this time.


Woodman was perfect.  It felt just right when she held the plate like a shield in front of her bare chest. She appeared more authentically naked, rather than nude, or just without clothes.  There was a remarkable vulnerability about her that felt true.

Francesca Woodman’s name is today well known in the art photography world, as her brief career has been celebrated with a range of publications along with the exhibits.  The bold and crude silver prints she made all reflected her impassioned use of herself as model in a series of zany stunts.

(Work print #2 on right)

Woodman died from her own hand in 1981. Her great promise as a developing artist remains present in her photographs.

I am happy that we were able to briefly collaborate in making this image.


(Work print #3)

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