Ariella Budick in the Financial Times covers Sally Mann’s new show of photographs featuring her husband:
Mann describes the pictures, now on view at the Gagosian Gallery and in a new book called Proud Flesh, as “one big caress”, and the tenderness is palpable. But there is a corrosive element too, a relentless resolve to face her own demons, whatever the cost to those she loves.
Larry has muscular dystrophy; his strength is gradually wasting away. Mann can’t bring herself to display her husband’s illness to the lens, even though, as she has said, “he knew what the deal was when he committed to the pictures”. The wounds she bares are not his – instead, she lets the streaks, specks and cracking on the surface of her prints stand in for the lacerations of time and illness. […]
The nude pictures of her husband are frankly un-erotic. It’s hard to think of a precedent for Mann’s combination of tenderness and clinical distance. Lucian Freud might, in the name of realism, render a fellow human as an amalgam of pustular blobs, but he lacks the ardour and intimacy that sanctifies Mann’s pictures.
It has been nearly 20 years since Mann published Immediate Family and was pilloried for exposing her children naked before the public eye. The intervening era of blog-fuelled exhibitionism has blunted those criticisms, but Mann’s new photos show what was alarming about that work – the haunting ever-presence of damage and doom.
Gagosian Gallery, New York (Financial Times)