Francesca Woodman lived a tragically brief life. She comitted suicide at the age of 22 but in the few years that account for her career she created an enduring body of photographic work that continues to fascinate and influence today. Woodman appears frequently in her exquisitely odd and unsettling silver gelatin photographs, her body often seeming to blend into her surroundings: caught in a state of metamorphosis she is not quite here, nor quite there. In others, she uses a variety of props to create strange and dreamlike tableaux tinted with melancholy.
Richard Serra (b. 1939) is one of America's greatest living sculptors, internationally renowned for his monumental installations: towering sheets of rusted steel that can be seen in important sites and museums around the world. His work is currently the subject of a major survey at the Museum of Modern Art New York and was described recently in The New Yorker as proof that Serra: "is not just our greatest sculptor but an artist whose subject is greatness befitting our time. He works at the physical scale of architecture and at the intellectual scale of art history as a whole".
At first glance the absolute certainty of Serra's monumental art suggests an opposite position to the quiet fragility of Woodman's images, but at the start of his career Serra was principally a performance and film-based artist and it is one such early work, "Hand Catching Lead" (1968, 3:30 min, b+w) which we showed alongside a group of seven rarely seen photographs from the Woodman Estate.
This ostensibly simple film shows the artist's work-worn hand as he attempts to grasp, and frequently misses, lumps of lead as they drop from above. Both Serra's film, and Woodman's photographs attempt to capture in two dimensions an experience of time and space and, in different ways, the works of both artists express a desire to capture something tantalisingly just out of reach.
Serra was in fact a friend of George and Betty Woodman, Francesca's parents, and was a regular visitor to their household at about the time that "Hand Catching Lead" was made. We are grateful to them, and to the Victoria Miro Gallery, London, for their help in staging this exhibition.