From the Archives

A look back

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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George Woodman’s renovated studio in Antella, Italy, 2008: From the Archives…

A former wine cellar underneath the family's stone farmhouse in Antella, Italy was transformed in to a new photography and painting studio for George Woodman, with surrounding views of the Tuscan countryside.

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Betty Woodman’s permanent installation Chinese Pleasure at the United States Embassy in Beijing, China, 2007-2008: From the Archives…

Betty Woodman’s Chinese Pleasure (2007-2008) was commissioned by the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program for the United States Embassy in Beijing. Woodman was inspired by and freely borrowed from visual influences all over the world and throughout art history, here incorporating three distinct moments in the history of Chinese art, ranging from Sichuan bronzes to popular culture into this dramatic installation.

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Francesca Woodman at Abbott Academy, 1972-1973: From the Archives…

From 1972-1973, Francesca Woodman studied at Abbot Academy, one of the few high schools in the US at the time to offer a concentrated art program. It was there that Francesca met Wendy Snyder MacNeil, her earliest, highly influential teacher who introduced her to the creative and expressive capabilities of photography.

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Images from L to R: The Woodman family at home in Boulder, Colorado, circa 1963 / Sirotkin House, designed by Tician Papachristou, 1959, Boulder, Colorado, courtesy M. Gerwing Architects / Images 3-7: Interior and exterior views of the Woodman family home in the Sirotkin House, circa 1960s / Baskets in Betty’s studio before one of her twice-yearly sales.
The Woodman family at home in Boulder, Colorado, circa 1963.
The Woodmans in Boulder, Colorado, 1960s: From the Archives…

In 1960, after returning to Boulder, Colorado, from their first year together in Italy, the Woodman family moved into the Sirotkin House. One of more than a dozen modernist homes in Boulder by architect Tician Papachristou, the house was designed for the original owner as a pair with the house next door.

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All images related to George Woodman, The Rochester Carpet, 1984, Bevier Gallery, RIT, Rochester, NY. L to R: Installation view with the artist / Installation view / Students sorting patterns before painting / Pages from the artist's instructions / article in the Times-Union, Rochester, NY, December 6, 1984.
Installation view, George Woodman, The Rochester Carpet, 1984, Bevier Gallery, RIT, Rochester, NY.
George Woodman’s paper tile installation at Rochester Institute of Technology, December 1984: From the Archives…

George Woodman’s The Rochester Carpet was a sprawling, patterned mosaic temporarily covering the floor of the Bevier Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology in December of 1984. This site-specific work was just one of the artist’s ambitious and encompassing tile projects, extending his earlier practice as an abstract painter by employing complex systems of pattern and color across public spaces.

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Betty Woodman's Sèvres porcelain, 1987: From the Archives…

In 1987, Betty Woodman began her work at the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, as an artist invited by the French Ministry of Culture. Over the course of more than twenty years, she made a series of sculptural vases and cups and saucers in brilliantly decorated porcelain, later shown at the Palazzo Pitti in her adopted home city of Florence.

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All images related to: Francesca Woodman, 'Blueprint for a Temple,' 1980. L to R: Artist's sketches / Installation views, Alternative Museum (including Francesca and Betsy Berne) / 'Beyond Photography 80' exhibition catalogue, Alternative Museum / Installation view, 'Spies in the House of Art,' Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012 / Diazotype collage, 173 1/4 x 111 3/16 in. / Diazotype, 24 1/2 x 18 in. / Diazotype, 24 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.
Francesca Woodman, Artist's sketch related to 'Blueprint for a Temple,' 1980.
Francesca Woodman’s Blueprint for a Temple, 1980: From the Archives…

In the spring of 1980, Francesca Woodman’s 'Blueprint for a Temple' was included in the exhibition 'Beyond Photography' at the Alternative Museum in New York City. This ambitiously-scaled work, made from photographs printed on architect’s blueprint paper, is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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The Woodmans in Italy, 1960s: From the Archives…

Beginning in 1965, Betty, George, Charlie and Francesca Woodman spent an influential year together as a family in Italy, immersed in museums, art, and culture. Their affinity for Florence took root, leading to the acquisition of a farmhouse in Antella several years later that has served as a family and creative nucleus ever since.

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