In her feminist inquiry into aesthetics and the sublime, Claire Raymond reinterprets the work of the American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981). Placing Woodman in a lineage of women artists beginning with nineteenth-century photographers Julia Margaret Cameron and Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden, Raymond compels a reconsideration of Woodman's achievement in light of the gender dynamics of the sublime. Raymond argues that Woodman's photographs of decrepit architecture allegorically depict the dissolution of the frame, a dissolution Derrida links to theories of the sublime in Kant's Critique of Judgement. Woodman's self-portraits, Raymond contends, test the parameters of the gaze, a reading that departs from the many analyses of Woodman's work that emphasize her dramatic biography. Woodman is here revealed as a conceptually sophisticated artist whose deployment of allegory and allusion engages a broader debate about Enlightenment aesthetics, and the sublime.
Francesca Woodman and the Kantian Sublime