Sally Mann. The Flesh and the Spirit
Few photographers are as unapologetically poetic, or as confrontational, as Sally Mann. Notorious for portraying her children in various states of undress, Ms. Mann takes a long look at herself in her new book. “Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit” features dozens of recent self-portraits, nude figure studies of her husband, and some “C.S.I.”-like images from a visit to a “body farm” in Tennessee, where forensic scientists are trained. She has lately been coating her negatives with collodion, and the cracking and dripping that this antiquated wet process is prone to has only enhanced her death-suffused romanticism.
Sally Mann: The Flesh and The Spirit is the first in-depth exploration of this world-renowned artist’s approach to the body. Throughout her career, Mann has fearlessly pushed her exploration of the human form, tackling often difficult subject matter and making unapologetically sensual images that are simultaneously bold and lyrical. This beautifully produced publication includes Mann’s earliest platinum prints from the late 1970s, Polaroid still lifes, early color work of her children, haunting landscape images, recent self-portraits and nude studies of her husband. These series document Mann’s interest in the body as principal subject, with the associated issues of vulnerability and mortality lending an elegiac note to her images. In bringing them together, author and curator John Ravenal examines the varied ways in which Mann’s experimental approach, including ambrotypes and gelatin-silver prints made from collodian wet-plate negatives, moves her subjects from the corporeal to the ethereal. Ravenal also supplies a comprehensive introduction as well as individual entries on each series, and essays by David Levi Strauss (“Eros, Psyche, and the Mendacity of Photography”) and Anne Wilkes Tucker (“Living Memory”) add different, but equally illuminating perspectives to this work. Sally Mann: The Flesh and The Spirit is a must for any serious library of photographic literature, students, scholars, collectors and others interested in her work.
Sally Mann (born 1951) is one of America’s most renowned photographers. She has received numerous awards, including NEA, NEH, and Guggenheim Foundation grants, and her work is held by major institutions internationally. Mann’s many books include What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), and the Aperture titles At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994) and Proud Flesh (2009). She lives in Lexington, Virginia.
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