PDN Photo of the Day

Sally Mann’s Southern Roots

Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings, the new exhibition of roughly 125 photos organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum, offers something for fans of Sally Mann, vintage photographic processes and American history. The exhibition, which will tour the Getty, the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the High Museum in Atlanta through early 2020, is the first to assemble all of Manns major bodies of work and consider them in the context of the Virginia-born photographers identity as a Southern artist in the tradition of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Flannery OConnor. Mann herself has written that she feels an urgent cry rising that compels me again and again to try to reconcile my love for this place with its brutal history.

Mann is still best known for Immediate Family, the 1990 series on her children napping, play-acting, dressing up and skinny-dipping in the stream near her familys cabin. This work appears within the section of the exhibition titled Family, which broadly views Manns sustained interest in family, showing how she has also photographed her parents and her family legacy. Other sections of the show highlight her photographs of her African-American friends and neighbors and their historic churches, the Southern landscape, and the sites of Civil War battles such as Antietam and Cold Harbor. Mann has been interested in collodion processes since her 20s, and she imbues many of her landscape images with a brooding atmosphere by using old lenses, or by intentionally altering her negatives so the resulting prints
are streaked or clouded.

This ambitious exhibition is accompanied by an equally ambitious, 320-page catalogue, published by Abrams. Its essays are illustrated with both Manns work and images by Emmet Gowin, Harry Callaghan, Timothy H. OSullivan and other photographers who photographed family, landscape and historic sites. The comparisons show how Mann photographed in
a way that is uniquely her own.

Holly Stuart Hughes

“Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings”
March 4-May 28
National Gallery of Art
6th and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20565

Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings
Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel, and Drew Gilpin Faust
230 photos | 320 pages

Related Articles
Sally Mann in Cy Twombly’s Studio
A Family Affair: Sally Mann’s “Hold Still”
Christopher Anderson and Marion Durand on Their Photographic Collaboration (for PDN Subscribers only; login required)

Posted in:

Fine Art


, , , , , , , , , ,


Leave a comment


Leave a Comment

Top of Page