Francesca Woodman / Egon Schiele
Tate Liverpool, on until 23rd September 2018
The photography of Francesca Woodman who disappears into her landscapes, shown alongside Egon Schiele’s paintings and drawings was a surprising and thought provoking one... It was great to see so much of Schiele's work in one place, what a strong character and incredible painter! I didn't realise how controversial his work was until this; apparently he was in endless trouble for his direct portraits of nudes.
The struggle Woodman had making a living as a photographer was evident in her work, she often appeared only half alive. A photographer (Laura Heart) I shared a studio with around a decade ago, first introduced me to Woodman's work, knowing I'd be interested in her blending into the landscape. We talked about her attempt to break into fashion photography but it didn't happen for her. In the exhibition this was mentioned followed by how she threw herself from a building after a funding application failed. One of my friends was surprised by this considering how well she was doing. I argued that though she was doing well for that field it probably didn't feel like it - cold studios, isolated work and uncertainly of where her next payment would come from combined with the personal nature of her photography would be tough at the best of times. She used herself in the work, partly because her own body was there - highly accessible to her; so I imagine rejections of her work would also feel like a rejection of herself. Her self-portraits depicted her as fragile and young, yet before her time. I sensed broken hearts had put this collection together.
Both artists made emotion laden portraits that would have shocked many, but their short life-spans really bound the shows together. Egon Schiele (1890-1918) died in the Spanish flu epidemic. Under the wing of Gustav Klimt, his art had become highly visible and recognisable at a rapid pace.