Ideas, Themes, & Forms

PLOTLINES is a serial feature of works by the Foundation’s three artists. These visual narratives explore recurrent threads and themes and highlight lesser-known bodies of work. Alternating by artist, PLOTLINES unfolds over a month on Instagram. Each study will be presented in its entirety here upon conclusion.


Throughout Betty Woodman’s long career, the ceramic vase – a vessel that serves as a metaphor for the human body – held a central position in her work. Functioning as animated abstract ceramic bodies, her sculptural vessels are presented solo or in pairs and groups, interacting as theatrical figures upon a stage. Handles become arms, pots lean and bend. The bodily associations, often implied, at times become literal with the inclusion of painted classical nudes. PLOTLINE 6 explores Betty Woodman’s distinctive approach to figuration through clay. Click here to view the series.

PLOTLINE 5: FRANCESCA WOODMAN / Traces of Performance

PLOTLINE 5 considers the performative aspects of Francesca Woodman’s practice. In her photographs and videos, Woodman claimed the female body as subject by using her own - staging and sequencing its movements, capturing it in motion. The bodily, temporal, and spatial concerns in Woodman’s work align her with the feminist performance art of her time. Woodman’s photographs reveal traces of her carefully constructed performative process. Click here to view the series.

PLOTLINE 4: GEORGE WOODMAN / Chromatic Progressions

George Woodman’s approach to color was idiosyncratic, calculated, and highly codified. From his early abstract paintings to more recent painted photographs, Woodman’s use of color ranged from bold to restrained, always in concert with the formal and art historical concerns that animated his work. Click here to learn more about this important aspect of Woodman’s practice.

PLOTLINE 3: BETTY WOODMAN / Alluding to Architecture

Betty Woodman is widely known for her seven-decade, groundbreaking engagement with clay, in particular her deconstruction and re-framing of the classical vase. In the early 1980s, Woodman embarked on architectural investigations that combined ceramic sculpture with vividly colored and patterned elements. These works are lyrical illusions of space and scale, influenced by Italian architecture from the Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Woodman's dynamic takes on colonnades, courtyards, rooms, walls, windows (and yes, vases) oscillate between form and function, two- and three-dimensionality. In these inspired and ambitious works, ceramic is both an embellishment of architecture and the means through which to represent it. Click here to view the series.

PLOTLINE 2: GEORGE WOODMAN / Repetitions & Rotations

Beginning his career in the 1950s as an abstract painter, by the mid 1960s George Woodman turned his focus to geometric abstractions grounded in complex patterned systems and rigorous formal structures. His exploration of pattern, in varied articulations, continued through the next two decades. Click here to view the series.


Francesca Woodman often employed light as figure, form, and architectural element. Click here to view the series.