Mann’s frank images of her children, in which they often appeared undressed and sometimes aped adults by posing with candy cigarettes or dressing up, courted minor controversy during the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Seen in retrospect, however, her works can be seen more as collaborations with her subjects to capture something of their untamed interior life and imagination—reminiscent of both Julia Margaret Cameron’s psychologizing portraiture and Lewis Carroll’s tableaux vivant of Victorian youth in costume. Although worry over the corrosive effects of culture on the sanctity of childhood innocence is at least as old as Romanticism, Mann’s photographs of her children are remarkable for the artist’s assured handling of a potentially explosive subject with equanimity and grace.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil on print, verso LR: "Jessie at 5 // (c) 1987 // Sally Mann // 1/25"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso LL: "editions 25 20 x 24 // 25 16 x 20 // 25 8 x 10"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 4," March 1, 1994–June 12, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969," June 25, 2013–January 26, 2014.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Selects from the Met Collection," March 17–June 14, 2015.
Uklański, Piotr. Piotr Uklański: Fatal Attraction. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2015. p. 199.