Distinctive Expression

Distinctive Expression

Life in Motion: Egon Schiele/Francesca Woodman, opens at Tate Liverpool, exploring the expressive nature of the human body through the eyes of two innovative practitioners. By combining photography and painting, the show offers interdisciplinary dialogues, establishing how the media’s the potential to convey raw and intimate moments.

For example, Schiele’s (b. 1890-1918) distinctive and often controversial style navigates each subject’s emotional and physical landscape. Defined by quick mark-making and a sharp use of lines, his practice reflected the animated energy of his models. The artist – one of the most prominent Austrian expressionists – portrayed models in a state of emotional and psychological flux, posed with twisted bodies and angled limbs. The strikingly visceral paintings and drawings, of which many are self-portraits, demonstrate a technical understanding of line and colour which emphasises an unflinching engagement with the human form.

Comparably, innovative photographer Woodman (b. 1958-1981) created many similarly arresting, surreal images. The artist used long exposure times to create a blurred effect, recording lengthy yet unsteady moments that bridge the boundaries between performance, choreography and architecture. The resulting monochrome works express a strong spatial awareness, merging the artist’s form with her surroundings to create uncanny compositions. Demonstrating a complex yet intimate relationship with the body, the highly introspective and direct images convey a complex state of personal existential transition. The show includes photographs from My House Series, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 and Eel Series, Roma, May 1977 – August 1978.

Displayed together, the bodies of work facilitate a deeper understanding of one another, emphasising how such approaches continue to have an influential impact on contemporary practice. The images offer viewers a close, deeply personal encounter, demonstrating a dynamic and unapologetic vision.

Until 23 September. Find out more here.

1. Francesca Woodman, Eel Series, Venice, Italy. 1978. Tate / National Galleries of Scotland.  © Courtesy of Charles Woodman/Estate of Francesca Woodman