Sally Mann with a photographer and artist William Christenberry. Photo by Michael Williamson.
Sally Mann in Lexington, Virginia. Photo by Michael Williamson.
Sally Mann with her dog Honey on her farm near Lexington, Virginia. Photo by Michael Williamson.
Sally Mann with a director Steven Cantor in Park City, Utah. Photo by Mark Mainz.
Sally Mann with a director Steven Cantor at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Clayton Chase.
Sally Mann speaks on stage as Honoree at Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner in New York City. Photo by Bennett Raglin.
418 Houghton Brook Rd, Putney, VT 05346, United States
The Putney School Sally Mann graduated from in 1969.
1 College Dr, Bennington, VT 05201, United States
Bennington College where Sally Mann studied from 1969 to 1972.
7916 Williamson Rd, Roanoke, VA 24019, United States
Hollins University where Sally Mann obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in 1974 and in 1975 respectively.
The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction which Sally Mann received in 2016 for her book Hold Still.
The youngest of three siblings and the only girl in the family, Sally Mann was brought up in a laissez-faire atmosphere welcomed by her father. It was he who introduced his young daughter to photography, including the interest to the large-format cameras. In fact, Mann was more attached to her father rather than to her mother.
Mann made her first attempts in photography at the age of sixteen. The earliest, as well as the further photos of the artist, were allied with her birthplace, Lexington.
Mann attended the Ansel Adams Gallery’s Yosemite Workshops in Yosemite National Park, California, before graduating from the Putney School in 1969. She then studied for three years under the photographer Norman Sief at Bennington College.
She then spent a year on an abroad trip, and after that received a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Hollins College (currently Hollins University) in 1974. It was followed by a Master of Arts degree in creative writing a year later.
In 2006, Sally Mann obtained an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Sally Mann’s career began at Washington and Lee University where she worked as a staff photographer since the middle of the 1970s. The first solo exhibition of Mann held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. in 1977 included the pictures of the newly constructed Lewis Hall (currently the Sydney Lewis Hall) as well as her suggestive surrealistic landscapes of the American South. Even back at that time, her ambiguous works drew a wide audience and were the subjects of heated discussions.
The experiments with different genres that Mann conducted throughout the decade led the photographer to finally find her specialty in the second series, At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women. Issued in a book form in 1988, the black and white pictures were focused on the aspects of girlhood capturing the emotions of the twelve-year-old adolescent girls.
The topic of childhood, growing-up process and interfamilial relationships was developed in the third Mann’s collection, Immediate Family, first presented to the public in 1990 at Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago. Apparently featuring the moments from the everyday life of her own three children under the age of twelve, often nude, the 65 black and white images touched on more serious topics like vulnerability, solitude, sexiness, death, and the cultural perception of childhood. The series stimulated hard controversy among the audience, including art critics, many of whom found pornographic subtext in the apparently simple works of Sally Mann. The photographer was accused of the abuse on her maternal responsibilities.
Sally Mann has remained true to black and white format throughout her entire career although she has experimented with color photography as well. In the middle of the 1990s, Mann turned her attention to antique technologies using an 8x10 bellows camera for which she had developed a strong interest in her previous projects and the wet plate collodion process to create several landscape series, including Sally Mann – Mother Land: Recent Landscapes of Georgia and Virginia, and Deep South: Landscapes of Louisiana and Mississippi of 1997 and 1999 respectively. The images from both series were included in a Deep South book issued in 2005. The 2016 show, Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington was also based on these techniques.
Another resonant series of works that can be attributed to a certain variation of landscapes became What Remains published in a five-volume book in 2003. Mortality, decay, and death were shown through the brooding images of decomposing bodies, both of animals and humans, including the pictures taken at the Forensic study facility known as The Body farm.
In 2009, Sally Mann came back to the subject of interfamilial relationships in Proud Flesh. This time, the topic was unveiled from the side of her husband suffering from muscular dystrophy. The touchable and frank portraits taken during the period of six years show the hardest and most unbearable moments of her mate’s life in its true colors. The series was exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in the autumn of 2009.
Two years later, Mann has used her If Memory Serves series speaking at William E. Massey, Sr. Lecture in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. In 2015, the speech was developed into a Hold Still memoir book where she shared the memories of her youth, discussed the major influences on her professional life, and touched the topic of race and slavery issues.
Sally Mann has exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C and the Virginia Museum of Art, Richmond, among others. The major retrospective of her works was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. at the end of 2018. The show traveled around the world and ended up at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta in January of 2020.
Mann has also served as an instructor at such institutions as the Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York’s International Center of Photography, and the Palm Beach Photographic Centre.
Nowadays, the photographer lives and works in Lexington, Virginia. The representative of her art in New York City is Gagosian Gallery.
Deep South #6
Deep South #12
Untitled (Fredericksburg #22)
Untitled (Antietam #12)
Untitled (Wilderness #19)
Juliet in a White Chair (At Twelve Series)
Debbie and Becky on the Swing Set
Sherry and Baby (At Twelve Series)
Leah and her Father (At Twelve Series)
Photographs and Poetry
Rhonda and the Strange Hat
Crimson and Lithe (At Twelve Series)
Remembered Light (Angled Light)
Remembered Light (Light on Wall and Bench)
Rebecca and the Hose (At Twelve Series)
Cindy and the Dog Statue
Jennifer at the Rodeo
Remembered Light, Untitled
Remembered Light (Three Sculptures on Table)
Remembered Light (Flamingo Profile)
Was Ever Love
Remembered Light (Suitcase)
Tara and Tree Shadow
Untitled (Painting and Sculptures)
Remembered Light (Glitter Hat)
"To be able to take my pictures, I have to look, all the time, at the people and places I care about. And I must do so with both ardor and cool appraisal, with the passions of eye and heart, but in that ardent heart there must also be a splinter of ice."
"As ephemeral as our footprints were in the sand along the river, so also were those moments of childhood caught in the photographs. And so will be our family itself, our marriage, the children who enriched it and the love that has carried us through so much. All this will be gone. What we hope will remain are these pictures, telling our brief story."
"I didn't expect the controversy over the pictures of my children. I was just a mother photographing her children as they were growing up. I was exploring different subjects with them."
Quotes from others about the person
"Few photographers of any time or place have matched Sally Mann's steadiness of simple eyesight, her serene technical brilliance, and the clearly communicated eloquence she derives from her subjects, human and otherwise – subjects observed with an ardor that is all but indistinguishable from love." Reynolds Price, Time magazine
"Mann recorded a combination of spontaneous and carefully arranged moments of childhood repose and revealingly – sometimes unnervingly – imaginative play. What the outraged critics of her child nudes failed to grant was the patent devotion involved throughout the project and the delighted complicity of her son and daughters in so many of the solemn or playful events. No other collection of family photographs is remotely like it, in both its naked candor and the fervor of its maternal curiosity and care." Time magazine
Sally Mann married attorney Larry Mann in 1970. He had served as a blacksmith before he initiated a career in law. In the middle of the 1990s, doctors discovered Larry with muscular dystrophy.
Sally and Larry have three children, Emmett, who committed suicide in 2016, Jessie, an artist, and Virginia, a lawyer.