"Some Disordered Interior Geometries," Rome, Italy: "Francesca Woodman: Alternate Stories," Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

L to R: All artworks by Francesca Woodman. 1-6: Select pages and cover from "Some Disordered Interior Geometries,” 1981. From original artist book, 24 pages + cover / “Angels,” Rome, Italy, 1977-78. 3 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. Gelatin silver print / “Untitled,” Rome, Italy, 1977-78. 4 9/16 x 4 11/16 in.

NOW ON VIEW “Francesca Woodman: Alternate Stories” at Marian Goodman Gallery through December 23rd.

Francesca Woodman was a frequent visitor to the Maldoror bookshop during the year she spent studying in Rome. In the hours she spent rooting through the stacks there, she began to collect old notebooks filled with elaborate handwriting exercises and objective mathematical lessons, all in Italian.

Books and literature were important to Woodman and informed the way she approached her work. “Influenced a lot by literature – Colette, Zola etc Proust. I think i try hard to catch glimpses from these peoples writings in my work,” she wrote in 1979. She also described her specific forays into serial images and books: "5 years ago I started working on an extended series of self portraits. Gradually some these come together in to a story line and I made a picture novel w/ them. Last year while I was in Italy I started collecting old school notebooks and handwritten diaries from the 19th century an started putting pairing photographs w/ them. I’ve always printed small but the photos seemed less precious and more personal when in the books…The books started to influence the work—I made my own geometries for the geometry book…”

“[T]he geometry book” began with a little notebook from the 1930s called “Graduated Exercises in Geometry,” which she picked up at the Maldoror. With the addition of her photographs and handwritten text, this became her artist book “Some Disordered Interior Geometries,” published in collaboration with her by Synapse Press in 1981. “I would like words to be to my photographs what the photographs are to the text in Andre Breton’s ‘Nadja.’ He picks out all the allusions and enigmatic details of some rather ordinary unmysterious snapshots and elaborates them into a story. I’d like my photographs to condense experience.” Perhaps her volume was a kind of response to this Surrealist literary classic.

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