University of Michigan Museum of Art
Ann Arbor, MI
Still Time: Photographs by Sally Mann
April 15-June 11, 2000
The photographs of Sally Mann are steeped in the influences of rural southwestern Virginia where she was raised and still lives. Landscapes suffused with the melancholy of a lost paradise, abstract color photographs of objects submersed in water, and black and white images of her children playing, their passing moments stilled by her large-format view camera--these form the body of imagery found in Still Time, a stunning mid-career retrospective of arguably one of the most important photographers working today. (left: Sally Mann (American, b. 1951) At Charlie's Farm, from Immediate Family , gelatin silver print, 1984-1991, Copyright Sally Mann, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Mann sees herself as an artist rooted in the American South in both subject and sensibility. "The South hasn't been fully explored," she has said. "I'm trying to make beautiful pictures, but I want them to have 'pith.'" A powerful sense of place attaches to her work; much of it is set at the family farm and cabin acquired by her father, a small town physician and amateur photographer. It is here in this rustic and remote setting, thick with the humid, Southern summer atmosphere, that Mann achieved her most compelling work--images of her children Emmett, Jessie, and Virginia, in the years between 1984 and 1995 at play in this lush setting. Even when photographing her children, Mann insists that her works are nevertheless about the South--"they're still about here," she has remarked. "It exerts a hold on me I can't define." And yet the evocative, lost paradise of childhood that she recorded has come to represents another important facet of the personal and artistic geography of Sally Mann. Images of her three offspring, often in the nude, display Mann's technical artistry and her fascination with the uncharted terrain between child and adult. (left: Sally Mann (American, b. 1951), Damaged Child, from Immediate Family , gelatin silver print, 1984-1991, Copyright Sally Mann, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Still Time: Photographs by Sally Mann was originally curated by Bari Ballou. It has toured to major museums throughout the country, solidifying Mann's reputation as complex and multifaceted artist with an astonishingly diverse and knowing body of work. Still in her late forties, Mann took her first photographs while a student at Bennington College. For a time she pursued both writing and photography before focusing on the latter. She favors turn-of-the-century, large-format cameras and has studied and mastered nineteenth-century techniques. Mann photographs in the summer and spends the rest of the year printing her work herself. Her printing prowess is well know in the world of photograph--a former assistant to Ansel Adams, Ted Orland, has called her among the handful of the country's best. (left: Sally Mann (American, b. 1951), Untitled, from Landscapes , gelatin silver print, 1972-1973, Copyright Sally Mann, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Mann is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and her widely exhibited work is found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. (right: Sally Mann (American, b. 1951),Untitled, from At Twelve, gelatin silver print, 1983-1985, Copyright Sally Mann, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Essay by Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections and Exhibitions
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