Children, landscape, lovers—these subjects are almost as common to the photographic lexicon as light itself. But Sally Mann’s take on these iconic themes, rendered through both traditional and esoteric processes, is anything but common. Astonishingly original both in image and technique, Mann’s work consistently challenges the viewer: in her hands, experiences drawn from daily life are rendered both disquieting and sublime. Now, having studied relationships between parent and child, artist and subject, life and death, Mann’s Proud Flesh investigates the bonds between husband and wife.
Exquisitely detailed, intimate, psychologically and emotionally intense, Proud Flesh engages territory most often inhabited by male artists portraying their wives and female lovers as Mann turns the camera to her husband of 39 years, Larry. Beautiful, textured, and provocative, these unprecedented nude studies neither objectify nor celebrate; rather, they go far under the skin to suggest a relationship between man and woman that is profoundly trusting: sensual, sexual, sometimes painful, often indescribably tender, and always unblinkingly honest.