From the Archives

A look back

L to R: Betty Woodman. “Bellagio drawing #15,” 1995. 59.5 x 74.5 inches. Terra sigilatta, graphite, wax on thai mulberry paper / Album of snapshots Betty took while a resident at the Bellagio Study Center, Italy / Betty Woodman. “Bellagio drawing #17,” 1995. 37 x 88 inches. Terra sigilatta, graphite, wax on thai mulberry paper / Installation view "Betty Woodman,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1996.
Betty Woodman. “Bellagio drawing #15,” 1995. 59.5 x 74.5 inches. Terra sigilatta, graphite, wax on thai mulberry paper.
Betty Woodman's residency at the Bellagio Study Center, Italy, 1995: From the Archives...

Betty Woodman’s month-long residency at the Bellagio Study Center in 1995 on a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship provided her the time and space to begin a formally complex, mixed-media “drawing” practice which continued for the rest of her life, later influencing her iconic painted canvas and ceramic wall works.

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Images L to R: All works by Francesca Woodman. Untitled (from Swan Song series), Providence, Rhode Island, 1978. Invitation by Francesca Woodman / Gelatin silver prints: 2) 39 1/2 x 44 in. 4) 35 1/4 x 33 in. / Installation views, Woods-Gerry Gallery, RISD, 1978 / Review by David K. Miller, 1978.
Invitation by Francesca Woodman, 1978.
Francesca Woodman's BFA graduate exhibition at Woods-Gerry Hall Gallery, RISD, 1978: From the Archives...

Francesca Woodman’s graduate exhibition as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design was held at the school’s Woods-Gerry Gallery in November 1978. She considered it a “swan song” to her time there as shown in her photocopied invitation. She reported on the opening in a letter to her friend Edith Schloss: “you would have enjoyed it i bought all these bird whistles that one fills with water and they warble in n.y. do you remember them from when you used to live there? anyway the room was very echoey with these things and i actually enjoyed the opening.”

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A birthday card from Betty to George Woodman, circa 1990s: From the Archives...

As Betty wrote in this card from the '90s, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE! Pictured at the family’s Tuscan farmhouse, George happily shares space with two friendly doves, a thriving lemon tree, his sgraffito on the outdoor wall, and a good book. Betty’s photo, likely taken by George, captures the beauty of the beloved Italian landscape that informed his life and work for nearly 50 years.

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Betty and George Woodman in "1+1=2" exhibition at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, 1984: From the Archives...

In 1984, following a series of exhibitions at PS1 dedicated to “Art Couples,” art historian and critic Donald Kuspit organized "1 + 1 = 2" at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Manhattan. The exhibition paired the work of 31 artist couples and acknowledged a long-overdue cultural shift in recognizing women artists as peers to their male counterparts. Betty Woodman and George Woodman—included in the exhibition and married for more than thirty years at that point—often credited their mutual respect for and support of each other as artists as the bedrock of their marriage.

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George Woodman review by Peter Frank in "The Village Voice," May 7, 1979: From the Archives...

In May of 1979, George Woodman received this review from “The Village Voice” in the mail, clipped and sent to him by his daughter Francesca. It was addressed in her hand “For Daddy,” and pointed out where his work is discussed.

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Betty Woodman's "Presenting Food" at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1985: From the Archives...

“Presenting Food,” 1985, marked Betty Woodman’s second project with the Fabric Workshop and Museum and a farewell to her work as a functional potter. For this dinner-performance event, held at the museum’s New York City gallery space, Woodman responded to chef Daniel Mattroce’s menu with her signature ceramic dinnerware and serving dishes, accompanied by fabrics she designed and printed at FWM’s Philadelphia studios. Woodman later recounted: “These are my last functional pieces, ‘presented’ like the food in an almost operatic finale.”

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Francesca Woodman birth announcement, 1958: From the Archives...

Francesca Woodman was born on this day in 1958. Her artist parents used this drawing by George, recently discovered in the family archive, to share the good news with family and friends.

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George Woodman’s early 1960s landscape paintings: From the Archives…

George Woodman’s landscape paintings from the early 1960s were influenced by modernists from Cézanne to Diebenkorn and profoundly impacted by his year-long stay in Italy. “The landscape in Italy is not the same. Italy is not a natural object. The earth is shaped. The hillsides are terraced…I painted many more Italian landscapes in Boulder than I ever did in Italy."

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Francesca Woodman's love of desserts: From the Archives…

Francesca Woodman's love of dessert was well-known to her family and friends, often coming up in letters or conversations, and even in two paintings she made in the late 1970s.

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Notes of love exchanged between Betty and George Woodman, 1951-52: From the Archives…

George Woodman and Betty Woodman began their nearly seven decade relationship in life and art in 1950. While Betty was on a year-long solo trip to Fiesole, Italy from 1951-52, the two regularly exchanged passionate love letters and affectionate notes.

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The Abrahams Family New Year card, circa 1946-1950. From left to right: Betty, Minnie, Henry and Dot Abrahams.
The Abrahams Family New Year card, circa 1946-1950. From left to right: Betty, Minnie, Henry and Dot Abrahams.
Happy New Year from Henry, Minnie, Dot and Betty Abrahams: From the Archives…

Betty Abrahams Woodman was raised with her sister in Newton, Massachusetts by their “liberal, anti-religious and culturally ambitious” parents who fostered in their daughters the importance of responsibility and self-determination. This New Year’s card from the late 40s - early 50s reveals a young Betty with her family.

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Letters exchanged between Francesca Woodman and George Woodman, April 1977: From the Archives…

Francesca Woodman often used the backs of her photographs to write letters to family and friends, addressing, stamping and dropping her prints directly into the mailbox. In this exchange between her and George from April 1977, they discuss her first forays into fashion photography and other news from Providence and Boulder.

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