Sally Mann — Remembered Light: Cy Twombly In Lexington
Mann is known and regarded for her images of intimate and familiar subjects rendered both sublime and disquieting: children, landscape, family, and the nature of mortality. In previous projects, she explored relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, brother and sister, nature and history.
In her latest exhibition of color and black-and-white photographs, taken between 1999 and 2012, she records in fleeting impressions the Lexington, Virginia studio of the late Cy Twombly, her close friend and mentor. Following presentations at Gagosian New York and Paris, this exhibition has special resonance in Italy, Twombly’s adopted and imaginative home for several decades.
Twombly and Mann were both born and raised in Virginia. The landscape to which he returned each year is also the memoryscape of Mann’s connection to him. In her recent and celebrated memoir Hold Still, she recalls his elemental nature, his Southern courtesy, his wry and gentle humor. Recalling their friendship she writes, “Our part of the South, remote, beautiful, and patinaed with the past, allows us such a remove, the distance of another time.”
Under Mann’s gaze, and the suffused light of Virginia, the accumulations and ordinary objects in Twombly’s studio reveal themselves not only as evidence of a richly imaginative and cultivated life lived and marked by tactility, but also as the overflow of his general modus operandi—in Simon Schama’s words, “the leftovers, smears, and stains, and an absence turned into a presence.” Remembered Light, Untitled (Solitary Print on Wall) (2012) shows a wall of the Virginia studio, and, stapled to it, a photograph taken by Twombly in Gaeta. In Twombly’s image, as captured by Mann, there is a just discernible view of a classical bust arranged with several vases; silhouetted by the coastal light, these shapes exude a quiet sense of nostalgia. And with Remembered Light, Untitled (Squat White Sculpture and Paint Edges) (2012), Mann indicates the tactile processes leading to the creation of one of his sculptures. Even without the artist’s actual presence, she is able to vividly evoke the traces of his daily life and work.
Mann’s poetic images of time recorded capture fragments and deposits of Twombly’s artistic life. As well, they speak to her deft, sharp ability to record interiority and her singular eye for the immediate, the intimate, and the present becoming memory.
Sally Mann was born in 1951 in Lexington, Virginia, where she continues to live and work. A Guggenheim fellow, and a three-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Mann was named “America’s Best Photographer” by Time magazine in 2001. She has been the subject of two documentaries: Blood Ties (1994), and What Remains (2007). Her most recent book, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Little, Brown, 2015), has been met with critical acclaim and is a New York Times best seller, along with being shortlisted for the National Book Award and recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence for Nonfiction. Collections include the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Recent institutional exhibitions include “Sally Mann: What Remains,” Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2004); “Sally Mann: Deep South/Battlefields,” Kunstammlung im Stadtmuseum, Jena, Germany (2007); “Sally Mann: The Family and the Land,” Kulturhuset, Stockholm (2007, traveled to Taidemuseo Tennispalatsi, Helsinki; Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Sweden; The Royal Library, Copenhagen; Fotomuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Holland; and The Photographer’s Gallery, London, through 2010); “Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA (2010); “A Matter of Time,” Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm (2012); and “Sally Mann: Battlefields,” Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA.
“Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings,” a major retrospective of Mann’s work, will premiere in March 2018 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and will travel to major institutions including the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; and Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.