Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime

Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime draws on the lessons of philosophy of architecture that I learned in Karsten Harries’ beautiful classes at Yale. In Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime, I am obsessed with trying to work out how Woodman’s photographs respond to architecture—they’re nearly all interiors—I interpret Woodman as an artist concerned with formal articulations of the body in architectonic space, rooms vulnerable to decay: Woodman’s self-portraits pose this question not of mortal time but of mortal space paradigmatically. I wanted to use Kant’s notion of the sublime to understand Woodman’s oeuvre because I knew that Kant’s sublime is much wilder and more radical than generally thought. I felt that Kant’s sublime found its apotheosis, of a sort, in Woodman’s possibly nihilistic and certainly very gripping and gorgeous work.

“While there has been a steady accumulation of critical responses to Woodman’s work since the 1980s, Claire Raymond’s Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime is the first book length work which attends to the complexity of Woodman’s project with the nuance and careful attention that the photographs deserve… Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime is a book that should be valued for opening up possibilities in how we think about Woodman’s work, but also for how we think about self- portraiture, gender, the Kantian sublime and about photography itself” Jane Simon in History of Photography, 36-4. History of Photography, 36-4, Nov 12(3)

Francesca Woodman_Caryatid

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