Francesca Woodman

Eel Series, Roma, May 1977 - August 1978 (1977-1978)

About this artwork

Woodman lies naked, in a vulnerable state, the curve of her body echoing the curved form of the eel. She has printed several similar versions of this image with her body on either side of the eel. While Woodman was studying in Rome between 1977 and 1978 she came into contact with the Symbolist work of Max Klinger, whose influence can be seen in this series. The image is sexually charged, yet in placing herself on both sides of the camera Woodman hovers between being in control and being defenceless, exploring the ways in which femininity can be portrayed. The photograph is not a self-portrait in the conventional sense, as it explores the possibilities of representation, instead of revealing the artist’s identity.

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  • title: Eel Series, Roma, May 1977 - August 1978
  • accession number: AR00348
  • artist: Francesca WoodmanAmerican (1958 - 1981)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Nudity
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1977-1978
  • measurements: 21.90 x 21.80 cm (paper 35.40 x 27.90 cm) (framed: 45.80 x 40.20 x 2.00 cm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Courtesy of George and Betty Woodman
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman’s photographs explore issues of gender and the self, looking at the representation of the body, and more specifically at how her own body relates to the world and her surroundings. Born in Denver, Colorado, Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design from 1975 to 1978, spending the final year of her studies on an exchange programme in Rome. She had previously lived in Italy with her artist parents during her youth, and later lived in New York. Woodman was interested in Surrealism and Symbolism, particularly the work of Max Klinger. She began to take photographs from around the age of thirteen or fourteen until her suicide at the age of twenty-two. Despite her short career, she produced a significant and influential body of work.