In the fall of , a traveling exhibit opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. The images, taken from to detailed the complex childhoods of her three children; Emmet, Jessie and the youngest, Virginia. At the time of the first gallery opening, Mann was unaware of the media attention she would attract, and the controversy that her work would stir up. To her, they were little more than tender, maternal photographs of her children. Yet to others, they were child pornography, and the mark of an irresponsible mother. Mann photographed the children and the landscape through a massive 8 by 10 view camera, staging elaborate portraits that still lie within the realm of possibility.
Sally Mann | artnet
Sally Mann HonFRPS born May 1, is an American photographer , widely known for her large-format, black-and-white photographs—at first of her young children, then later of landscapes suggesting decay and death. Born in Lexington, Virginia , Mann was the third of three children. Her father, Robert S. Munger, was a general practitioner , and her mother, Elizabeth Evans Munger, ran the bookstore at Washington and Lee University in Lexington. Mann was raised by an atheist and compassionate father who allowed Mann to be "benignly neglected". Most of her photographs and writings are tied to Lexington, Virginia.
Unpicking the controversy behind Sally Mann’s iconic photos of her children
Sally Mann admits to being a little exasperated. It's exasperating in several ways: because the photographs in question — published in the book Immediate Family , in — made her famous for the wrong reasons; because critics exaggerated the intimacy of the photos at the expense of their artfulness; and because the American religious right accused her of pornography when her camera was capturing beauty and transience. There was no internet in those days. I'd never seen child pornography.
This cover story appeared in the magazine on Sept. While her mother and father conversed with friends and admirers, Jessie orbited the four rooms in her red dress, fielding questions from strangers eager to know more about her parents. Beneath a portrait of himself in the water, Emmett shrugged off the stares and expressed a typical teen-age frame of mind. All three seemed unconcerned by the fact that on the surrounding white walls they could be examined, up close, totally nude.