Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Sally Mann  (Read 1630 times)

Alan Goldhammer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2902
    • A Goldhammer Photography
Sally Mann
« on: March 03, 2018, 08:30:03 AM »

I posted a note on the Coffee Corner about the upcoming Sally Mann exhibition at Washington DC's National Gallery of Art.  I'm reposting here as this is the more appropriate section.  The exhibit opens this week and there is no entrance fee.  A couple of good articles from the Washington Post:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/sally-mann--a-great-artist-who-loves-tumbling-into-trouble/2018/02/28/c3a752c0-1b04-11e8-b2d9-08e748f892c0_story.html?utm_term=.ce91b8161379  and https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2018/02/28/the-national-gallery-of-arts-sally-mann-photo-exhibit-shows-the-south-as-youve-never-seen-it/?utm_term=.b90b3919ada0
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 18744
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2018, 10:27:37 AM »

Now you have really, really depressed me.

I didn't want to know she is 66; I was perfectly happy to grant her the youth of her younger photographs where she looks quite remarkable. Those perceptive eyes, that mouth; the profile. I know about the ravages of time. I wish I had been able to save her from them at least in my head.

Why on Earth was it deemed essential to bring her age into the equation? I do wonder about people who do write-ups like that. It has no bearing on her art and should be left to be whatever it is.

Same with Bardot, and so many others. There comes a time when one should maybe stop looking if only to preserve some kind of perfect memory.

If I'd opened this an hour ago I wouldn't have had the will to do my hour-long walk to nowhere and right back. Knackered now, maybe I should have opened it. Everything gets to look quite pointless with that goddam clock ticking remorselessly away...

:-(

Alan Goldhammer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2902
    • A Goldhammer Photography
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2018, 11:27:03 AM »

Rob, I'm a bit younger than you at 70 years and agree with your post.  If someone is an artist, they are an artist and age should not have any impact at all on the art.  I will be looking at images when I go to the exhibit and that's what is important to me.  The Gallery has had great photograph exhibits over the years:  Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Annie Liebowitz, etc. and I didn't care at all about the age of the photographers.
Logged

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 10864
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 09:06:19 AM »

Alan, there's a quite wonderful spread on Sally in today's Wall Street Journal. You might want to pick up a copy.

Alan Goldhammer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2902
    • A Goldhammer Photography
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 10:41:05 AM »

Alan, there's a quite wonderful spread on Sally in today's Wall Street Journal. You might want to pick up a copy.
Thanks!!!  I'll give it a look.
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 18744
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2018, 08:03:17 AM »

Alan, there's a quite wonderful spread on Sally in today's Wall Street Journal. You might want to pick up a copy.
.

It's a strange thing, but photographers with a modicum of photographic ability often fall flat on their ass when it comes to writing about the work of other photographers.

I looked at the Meyers website, and indeed, no lack of ability, but wow, so many references! I also find myself wondering why writing on the topic appears to demand a talking down to the reader, even of the esteemed WSJ!

I almost choked on my fillet of salmon (yes, my favourite French restaurant has reopened for summer!) as I read that Sally makes many prints until she gets it as she wants! Holy shit, this is unusual? This kind of thing runs rampant, not just with this cat but across the board of art writers.

I mentioned some time ago that I was interested in buying Color Correction, the latest Ernst Haas tome, and I did, in the end, complete the purchase. To my surprise, despite the excellent Steidl production values, I was struck by how overly crisp it all seemed to look. Coming from the same era as Leiter, shooting on the same streets, it's remarkable the lack of soul. Yet, I have admired Haas since forever!

Odd how our own current tastes, or reinterpretations of old works by new minds (?), can ruin memory.

Rob

Alan Goldhammer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2902
    • A Goldhammer Photography
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2018, 02:46:02 PM »

I just returned from viewine the Sally Mann exhibit at Washington DC's National Gallery of Art and it was decidedly a mixed bag.  There were images from every facet of her work including some of the controversial nudes of her daughter that were taken when she was between the ages of 6 and 9.  There were some landscapes that were not terribly appealing to me as they were way over exposed and the photographer's intent was unclear to me.  I think these were images that had not been previously displayed.  There were some interesting images taken using the glass plate collodion process that were intriguing.  At the end of the exhibit there was a short film where Ms. Mann describes the process and goes through posing a young woman in her studio.  She uses a large 8x10 wood view camera that has to be focused before the plate is prepared.  She instructs the model not to move as she will be back in several minutes after preparing the glass.  The exposure was for 15 seconds!!  She doesn't worry about dust or streaking on the glass plate during preparation as she likes the uncertainty of the final image.

I was interested in some of the tintypes that she made as I've not seen such substrates before.  It was interesting, it was free (as are all National Gallery exhibits) and worth a visit but not the most memorable display of photographs I've seen.
Logged

amolitor

  • Contributor
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 230
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 08:55:56 AM »

I too saw the Sally Mann exhibit, and I sad to hear that it doesn't read as powerfully to everyone. Although, I suppose I knew that.

I saw a wildly capable artist pulling together a set of interconnected ideas from across 25 years of work to make a single potent statement. It helps that
I am pretty attuned to what Mann has been up to, I dare say. Most of the pictures don't make sense without some sort of back story, although many of them
will retain a certain potency as standalone pictures.

It's not clear to me how much of the text around the photos you need to read, but it's certainly "quite a bit of it" and it's possible that reading every word of the
show won't be enough to make it clear if you don't already know some of the relevant stuff.

The emphasis the curators place on process is, to my eye, wildly distracting. How can you see this tremendous portrait/expose/personal experience of/love letter to The American South when everyone's droning on about collodion, after all.

If you do go, I suggest:

1. Read every word.
2. Ignore the process, what matters is the results.
3. Realize that Sally Mann is a supremely skilled technician. If the picture is blotchy, or dark, or looks boring, that's on purpose.

ETA: Here is my review: A Thousand Crossings
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 02:57:31 PM by amolitor »
Logged

jeremyrh

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 729
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 07:41:32 AM »

Thanks for the review, Andrew - just off to book my tickets to Paris !
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 18744
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 08:32:09 AM »

I too saw the Sally Mann exhibit, and I sad to hear that it doesn't read as powerfully to everyone. Although, I suppose I knew that.

I saw a wildly capable artist pulling together a set of interconnected ideas from across 25 years of work to make a single potent statement. It helps that
I am pretty attuned to what Mann has been up to, I dare say. Most of the pictures don't make sense without some sort of back story, although many of them
will retain a certain potency as standalone pictures.

It's not clear to me how much of the text around the photos you need to read, but it's certainly "quite a bit of it" and it's possible that reading every word of the
show won't be enough to make it clear if you don't already know some of the relevant stuff.

The emphasis the curators place on process is, to my eye, wildly distracting. How can you see this tremendous portrait/expose/personal experience of/love letter to The American South when everyone's droning on about collodion, after all.

If you do go, I suggest:

1. Read every word.
2. Ignore the process, what matters is the results.
3. Realize that Sally Mann is a supremely skilled technician. If the picture is blotchy, or dark, or looks boring, that's on purpose.

ETA: Here is my review: A Thousand Crossings

I haven't had a chance ever to see her work in person, as it were, and I don't often find myself agreeing with you; however, insofar as #2 is concerned, you are on the money!

In fact, I'd stick my neck out and say that pretty much all of the people on this site who show images that I like would probably agree with us both on that: content and its expression is key, not process, not camera, not film or digital format.

Come to think of it, I suspect that's yet another of the differences between photography and painting/drawing. In those latter arts, I believe that "process" reveals a lot more about how competent or otherwise the artist. Maybe that just indicates that photographers have a lower bar to leap. It sure was one big deciding factor in my life choices!

Rob

Eric Myrvaagnes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14903
  • http://myrvaagnes.com
    • http://myrvaagnes.com
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 12:54:48 PM »

In fact, I'd stick my neck out and say that pretty much all of the people on this site who show images that I like would probably agree with us both on that: content and its expression is key, not process, not camera, not film or digital format.
Count me in, Rob.
The other day someone asked me how many megapixels my camera has, and I couldn't answer.

Eric
Logged
-Eric Myrvaagnes (visit my website: http://myrvaagnes.com)

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 10864
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 04:17:47 PM »

You know I've been preaching that for a long time, Rob. I crack up when I read our "modern" photography magazines. It's all about equipment. I remember when Popular Photography actually used to have articles about photographs. I particularly remember when they reviewed and panned Robert Frank's The Americans. They were wrong, but at least they were dealing with what photography's all about.

Alan Goldhammer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2902
    • A Goldhammer Photography
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 06:59:00 AM »

You know I've been preaching that for a long time, Rob. I crack up when I read our "modern" photography magazines. It's all about equipment. I remember when Popular Photography actually used to have articles about photographs. I particularly remember when they reviewed and panned Robert Frank's The Americans. They were wrong, but at least they were dealing with what photography's all about.
Interesting point about Robert Frank whose work I really like.  Maybe 7-8 years ago the National Gallery had a complete display of the prints Frank made for The Americans.  Even though I had the book for a number of years, it was really great to see them all together on the walls as it told the story better than flipping pages.  Just to clarify my comments about the Sally Mann exhibit, I did find the collodion prints with all their flaws some of the best images of the show.  The landscapes were less successful and were the complete opposite of what Ansel Adams achieved with his approach.  This is what makes photography so fascinating; some will see great art while others will not be moved.
Logged

amolitor

  • Contributor
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 230
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2018, 11:15:07 AM »

One more  tiny detail I feel compelled to add. You probably won't see this in any of the other venues the show travels to.

Washington DC is in the South (although arguably not "of" the South as such). It has a large population of relatively non-affluent African Americans, and a pretty good sized population of white politicos and bureaucrats who are better off. There are also a lot of tourists, largely from across the USA, and as a consequence most of them are white as well.

As a consequence, the security staff at the National Art Gallery are almost exclusively black, whereas the visitors are almost exclusively white.

It was an interesting experience to spend time in an art show which is as much about the way "Black people work for white people" seems to be baked into the American Culture in which the people looking at the art where white, and the workers on the ground were black.

Don't take this as a shrill "RACISM! MUST KILL WHITEY!" remark, it's not, and more than Sally Mann's work is. Both of us, I think,  are merely noting that the current state of affairs has a pretty specific shape, and that skin color is embedded into that milieu in ways that we don't always notice.
Logged

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 10864
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2018, 11:33:06 AM »

Interesting point about Robert Frank whose work I really like.  Maybe 7-8 years ago the National Gallery had a complete display of the prints Frank made for The Americans.  Even though I had the book for a number of years, it was really great to see them all together on the walls as it told the story better than flipping pages.  Just to clarify my comments about the Sally Mann exhibit, I did find the collodion prints with all their flaws some of the best images of the show.  The landscapes were less successful and were the complete opposite of what Ansel Adams achieved with his approach.  This is what makes photography so fascinating; some will see great art while others will not be moved.

Hi Alan, You might enjoy the book: Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, Expanded Edition. It was published to accompany a major exhibition at the NationalGallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009 and 2010. There are two editions of this catalog. The expanded edition includes the contact sheets from which came all the photographs in The Americans. It's absolutely fascinating.

TommyWeir

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 168
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2018, 11:45:33 AM »

And a good article in the New Yorker on the show.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/the-color-of-humanity-in-sally-manns-south?reload=true

I saw some of these large prints in Paris Photo last year, I found them really interesting, quite emotional, dark and troubling, the material qualities brought something to the mix for sure, an echo of a past barely recorded and dimly remembered but present nonetheless.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 11:48:47 AM by TommyWeir »
Logged

Ken Bennett

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1714
    • http://www.kenbennettphoto.com
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2018, 08:50:34 PM »

Just by chance I realized that we'd be visiting the DC area over the Easter holiday, and my wife and I spent Easter Sunday at this exhibit. Wow. Very powerful. The more recent portraits are intense and the wet plate landscapes reward very careful study. We spent several hours there, then decamped for lunch (I can happily recommend Reren for ramen and dumplings, a 15 minute walk north of the mall at 817 7th St NW.) Note that even on a important religious holiday, the mall area was packed with tourists.
Logged
Equipment: a camera and some lenses. Ima

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 18744
Re: Sally Mann
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 03:56:33 AM »

One more  tiny detail I feel compelled to add. You probably won't see this in any of the other venues the show travels to.

Washington DC is in the South (although arguably not "of" the South as such). It has a large population of relatively non-affluent African Americans, and a pretty good sized population of white politicos and bureaucrats who are better off. There are also a lot of tourists, largely from across the USA, and as a consequence most of them are white as well.

As a consequence, the security staff at the National Art Gallery are almost exclusively black, whereas the visitors are almost exclusively white.

It was an interesting experience to spend time in an art show which is as much about the way "Black people work for white people" seems to be baked into the American Culture in which the people looking at the art where white, and the workers on the ground were black.

Don't take this as a shrill "RACISM! MUST KILL WHITEY!" remark, it's not, and more than Sally Mann's work is. Both of us, I think,  are merely noting that the current state of affairs has a pretty specific shape, and that skin color is embedded into that milieu in ways that we don't always notice.

This just goes to show how a remark made in one context falls apart when looked at in another.

1. Millions of whites work for other whites, also as security guards;

2. whites also work for blacks, browns and all colours of the human spectrum. During my own family's stay in India the ultimate bosses and owners of the company were Indian, not white Brits; the whites were simply highly skilled, paid technicians, architects and engineers.

It seems to me that some of those sold on the idea of bleeding from the heart for people of another shade often do so from a position of ignorance or, worse, an assumed superiority that permits them to feel the luxury of guilt or sorrow for those they deem worthy of their tears.

Were life only so simply configured as they appear to wish.

Rob

Pages: [1]   Go Up