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Sally Mann: Back In Print for all the Right Reasons

Wednesday 05th January 2011

Sally Mann, Emmett, Jessie and Virgina, from the Immediate Family Series, 1989
 
Sally Mann is easily on of the most talked about, celebrated and debated photographers out there and is perhaps best known for her large scale photographs of her own children when they were just youngsters, and her later landscape work. 
 
Sally Mann has received a lot of criticism for her work and continues, even now, to be used in debates regarding the decency of the fine art photograph and where the line lies between observational photography and pornographic imagery. Mann's case in this regard is particular severe, as accusations of producing pornographic imagery centered around her third major collection of works; Immediate Family. Published in 1992, Immediate Family was a documentary account of the lives of her three children, taken at the family's summer cabin. In many of the pictures, her children, who were all younger than 10 years of age, could be seen naked. The work explored themes of growing up and exploration, of playing games and enjoying life as well as darker themes of death and loneliness. 
 
Controversy was widespread and intense when the publication was released, with accusations of child pornography flaring up. Various parties reacted in different ways, with the Wall Street Journal famously moving to censor an image of one of Mann's daughters. Other critics however, stood by Mann in her argument that these are innocent and natural pictures taken by a mother, of her children, and that there is a raw humanity about them that everyone can relate to. 
 
Having survived the backlash to go on and produce further works, and gain critical acclaim for series such as Still Time of 1994, What Remains of 2003 and Deep South of 2005. Notably, for many of the famous landscape shots that feature in some of these series, Mann used wet plate, 8 x 10 inch glass negatives, a method requiring a lot of care, skill and patience, that had long been neglected for more modern photographic techniques.
 
The photographic organisation, Aperture, along with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts now presents the latest book on the work of Mann; Sally Mann: The Flesh and The Spirit. The publication, which includes a range of works and topics from Mann's oeuvre, including sill life polaroids, images of her children, stark landscapes and more recent self-portraits, is the first thematic survey of Mann's work, and stands as a book that should not be neglected by anyone serious about photography. 

Posted on January 05th 2011 on 06:25pm
Labels: photography

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