Sally Mann : A Thousand Crossings
A Thousand Crossings
Sarah Greenough and Sarah Kennel
For more than 40 years, Sally Mann (b. 1951) has made experimental, elegiac, and hauntingly beautiful photographs that explore the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family, and nature's magisterial indifference to human endeavor. What unites this broad body of work - portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and other studies - is that it is all "bred of a place," the American South. Mann, who is a native of Lexington, Virginia, uses her deep love of her homeland and her knowledge of its historically fraught heritage to ask powerful, provocative questions - about history, identity, race, and religion - that reverberate across geographic and national boundaries. Organized into five sections - Family, The Land, Last Measure, Abide with Me, and What Remains - and including many works not previously exhibited or published, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings is a sweeping overview of Mann's artistic achievements. "all her [Sally Mann's] strengths are on view in a deftly chosen and admirably displayed exhibition in Washington covering most of her 40-plus-year career: "Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings," at the National Gallery of Art. There, 108 images - 47 of them never before exhibited - and an excellent catalog provide a provocative tour through the photographer's accomplishments. It is also a record of exploration - into the past, into the country's history and photography's, stamped with a powerful vision." NY Times "Photographer Sally Mann has been taking haunting images of the American South for more than four decades. This 320-page volume collects the sweep of her work through portraits, still lifes, and landscapes." New York Magazine online "Virginia-born Sally Mann has not strayed from her home turf and, over a 40-plus-year professional life, her photographic signature has remained constant: a southern gothic sensibility imbued with a heavy tincture of romanticism. A Thousand Crossings showcases her achievement and includes work never seen in print before." The Irish Times "More than 100 of Mann's photographs, including some previously unpublished, are gathered in this richly illustrated retrospective monograph, with accompanying essays from critics and academics. The work affirms Mann's reputation as one of the most influential and provocative photographers of the past several decades. Mann, an accomplished memoirist in both words and images skillfully captures the essence of the American South, where she was born and still lives, with photos of Civil War battlefields and Baptist churches, Gothic landscapes and haunting portraits of black men identified only by first names. Mann began her career 40 years ago with intimate and sometimes controversial photos of her three children during their "free-range childhood," when they often romped naked at the family's Virginia farm; many of these photos are featured in the book. The most moving images are of her husband, Larry, his body deteriorating due to muscular dystrophy. In one of the essays, cultural critic Hilton Als writes that the portraits and landscapes of Mann's homeland with "its terrible history and epic natural beauty" require viewers to ask, "When will the South stop being the South?" This is an impressive companion to the National Gallery of Art's current exhibit of Mann's work, infused with memory, history, culture, identity, and race, and it serves as a fitting tribute to an artist with both an extraordinary mind and an exceptional eye." (Mar.) Publishers Weekly "a direct yet extraordinary look at everyday life, and a unique voice shaped by life in the American South. . . images that feel fresh, real, and vibrant today . . . Mann's art moves beyond the style and effects that bring so much historical baggage to create something very honest, curious and yet otherworldly." Dazed "A Thousand Crossings" and its catalog represent a large portion of Mann's multifaceted oeuvre. It is by turns tender, light-hearted, sun-dappled, epic, allusive, burdened, scarred, mournful, dark, mindful, exploratory, expiatory, commemorative, introspective, conciliatory, and wise.", New York Review of Books "This catalogue was produced to accompany the retrospective exhibition of Mann's work organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum. Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel and Drew Gilpin Faust are illustrated with both Mann's work and images by Emmet Gowin, Harry Callaghan, Timothy H. O'Sullivan and other photographers who photographed family, landscape and historic sites. The comparisons show how Mann photographed in a way that is uniquely her own.", Photo District News "Featuring previously unseen images as well as some of her best known work, the book is both a sombre and inspiring look at Mann's recurring themes - family, death, existence and the complex history of the American South, where she was born and still lives.", New Statesman
Sally Mann is a celebrated contemporary American artist whose career spans more than 40 years. She lives in Lexington, Virginia. Sarah Greenough and Sarah Kennel are the cocurators of the Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings exhibition. Greenough is the senior curator and head of the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Kennel is the curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.