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Sally Mann

Sally Mann is a photographer whose work has consistently challenged conventional notions of subject and technique. Her broadest fame derives from the somewhat controversial photographs of her children published in Immediate family (1992). The themes of that work, childhood and coming-of-age, had also been explored in, respectively, the "Dream Sequence" (1971) and At twelve: Portraits of young women (1988). But other portfolios, such as her "Landscapes" (1972-73), the Lewis Law Portfolio (1977), a series of "Platinum Prints" (1978-80), and her 1997 "Georgia" and Virginia" series, demonstrate a range of subject matter that belies any attempt to limit Mann to domestic subjects or a topic such as puberty. Instead the distinguishing characteristic of her work is the manner in which developments in technique (coupled with great openness on technical matters such as choice of equipment and processes) takes place in conjunction with her exploration of successive subjects. A chronological investigation of Mann's work will demonstrate how the intimate connection between method and subject in her photographs has produced some of the strongest and most beautiful pictures of the last quarter-century.

Mann's work lends itself to being studied in terms of portfolios because ideas about pictures are clearly and consistently worked out within each group of photographs. Mann's stylistic development is always accompanied by and intrinsic to her changes of subject. The classic compositions, awkward poses, emotional distance, and revealing light of the At twelve (1988) photographs, for example, are very different from the near-monumentality and elaborate invention of the burnished, atmospheric works in Immediate family (1992). Other portfolios display similarly consistent relationships between technical means and aesthetic ends. The Lewis Law Portfolio (1977), for instance, features night photographs made with extended exposures which produce...

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Sally Mann. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:55, May 25, 2020, from