SALLY MANN, born in a hospital that had been Stonewall Jackson's home, has lived in Virginia most of her life and always proclaimed her Southerness-

In her photographs and in her engaging and boisterous memoir.

''Hold Still.'' She says that what makes her work Southern in her obsession with the place, family, in the past, her love of Southern light and her willingness to experiment with levels of romance beyond what most late 20th-century artists could tolerate.

Add to that romanticism the influence of Southern writers and you get a tinge of gothic. A streak of  expressionism also comes into the mix, powered by the will to express feelings strongly and the capacity to make those visible.

All of that Southern-ness, all of those obsessions and all her strength are on view on 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 through May 28.

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.

The exhibition focuses first on Ms Mann's preoccupation with family relations when her children were young and she adroitly registered the endemic conflicts and convolutions in the process of growing up.

From there, she set to discover the Virginia land she lived on and nearby Southern states.

The work grows visible more profound in content - in some instances anguished - as it makes a foray into Southern history. At length, she returns to her children, even more liable to time's assaults, to her own close brush with death in a riding accident and to the sad progress of her husband's late onset  muscular dystrophy.

If the delicate progress along  life's journey is most evident in children, Ms. Mann took a larger path into racial history and memories of the past that linger in current consciousness.

Her work was never solely about surface, but as it went on, it went deeper and faced darkness ever more daringly.

The exhibition convincingly illustrates her exceptional sensibility, dauntless exploration of techniques, consummate skill as a printer and willingness to tackle the complexities of life and death.

[Her rare tendency to overdo her  romantic expressionism also raises its head.]

Not everything equals her best, but her best brims with passion.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research on Artists and Great Work of Art continues to Part 2. !WOW! thanks author and researcher Vicki Goldberg.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!