Posts Tagged ‘fragile life studies

14
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘Proud Flesh’ by Sally Mann at Gagosian Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 15th September – 31st October 2009

 

Sally Mann. 'Memory's Truth' 2008

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Memory’s Truth
2008
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

“I can think of numberless males, from Bonnard to Callahan, who have photographed their lovers and spouses, but I am having trouble finding parallel examples among my sister photographers. The act of looking appraisingly at a man, making eye contact on the street, asking to photograph him, studying his body, has always been a brazen venture for a woman, though, for a man, these acts are commonplace, even expected.”

.
Sally Mann

 

 

There is an interesting review of the book of the series on the 5B4: Photography and Books blog (from which the quotation above is taken). What photographs, what a ‘body’ of work, what an artist!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Gagosian Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Proud Flesh is for me an emotionally exhausting work about withering. It has elements of 19th century clinical photography done with absolute loving care for the subject. Its factual surface is quickly replaced by metaphor and the haze of imperfection from the wet-plate collodion negatives she employs. In a few of the images, due to the choice of striped bedding on which the figure lays, we might be looking at a historical photograph take from Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen. With Larry’s thin and seemingly weak legs dangling over the edge of a wooden cot, the soiled bedding following the contour of his legs, it is difficult for me to see this image without this harsh historical reference. The following image in the book, he is turned into a martyr – arms out stretched – the sheet underneath him now sharply crinkled like a bed of straw (or an imagined crown of thorns).

The surface texture plays such a strong role in these photos much of the seduction of these photos comes from the beauty of those imperfections. At times they can be nauseating, for their liquid streaks ooze over the images of aged flesh keeping viscera and bodily fluids as a second metaphoric subject. On the cover image, the disturbed collodion emulsion leaves a pattern which seems to be both looking at, and looking inside, the torso standing before the camera. Like Lee Friedlander’s shadow self-portrait (see the cover of Like a One-eyed Cat) where his organs are replaced with a jumble of rocks and his head is filled with straw, Mann’s image turns Larry’s insides into a mix of man and machine – collodion cogs and gears. This is the most wishful, as it portrays the strongest sense of life and the perhaps even the possibility of escaping its mortality. He stands at table’s edge with a steadying hand and a closed fist.

The most remarkable image for me appears as plate 20 and is captioned Time and the Bell (2008). Like the aforementioned cover image, this is an ideal as Mann has turned her husband’s head and shoulders into a profile bust of marble – the washed out light tones give way to a few angular shapes of rich shadow. It could be a still life of artefacts from an artists work space, a table and a sculptural work in progress. The surprise of the photographic description, which is present in most of the photos in Proud Flesh, is so complex and engaging for me it is difficult to not have it outshine all of the rest.”

5B4: Photography and Books blog October 1, 2009 [Online] Cited 28/04/2019

 

Sally Mann. 'Hephaestus' 2008

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Hephaestus
2008
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann’s poignant image of her husband, Larry, symbolises both his illness and his skill as a blacksmith.

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951) 'Somnambulist' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Somnambulist
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

“Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Proud Flesh”, a series of new photographs by Sally Mann.

Children, landscape, lovers – these iconic subjects are as common to the photographic lexicon as light itself. But Mann’s take on them, rendered through processes both traditional and esoteric, is anything but common. From the outset of her career she has consistently challenged the viewer, rendering everyday experiences at once sublime and deeply disquieting.

In previous projects, Mann has explored the relationships between parent and child, brother and sister, human and nature, site and history. Her latest photographic study of her husband Larry Mann, taken over six years, has resulted in a series of candid nude studies of a mature male body that neither objectifies nor celebrates the focus of its gaze. Rather it suggests a profoundly trusting relationship between woman and man, artist and model that has produced a full range of impressions – erotic, brutally frank, disarmingly tender, and more. While the relation of artist and model is, traditionally, a male-dominated field that has yielded countless appraisals of the female body and psyche, Mann reverses the role by turning the camera on her husband during some of his most vulnerable moments.

Mann’s technical methods and process further emphasise the emotional and temporal aspects of these fragile life studies. The images are contact prints made from wet-plate collodion negatives, produced by coating a sheet of glass with ether-based collodion and submerging it in silver nitrate. Mann exploits the surface aberrations that can result from the unpredictability of the process to produce painterly photographs marked by stark contrasts of light and dark, with areas that resemble scar tissue. In works such as Hephaestus and Ponder Heart, the scratches and marks incurred in the production process become inseparable from the physical reality of Larry’s body.”

Text from the Gagosian Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/10/2009 no longer available online

 

Sally Mann. 'Kingfisher's Wing' 2007

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Kingfisher’s Wing
2007
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'The Quality of the Affection' 2006

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
The Quality of the Affection
2006
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'Ponder Heart' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Ponder Heart
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'Was Ever Love' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Was Ever Love
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

Gagosian Gallery – Madison Avenue Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075
Phone: 212.744.2313

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm

Gagosian Gallery website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top




Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

Join 2,532 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Archives

Categories