Sally Mann: Immediate Family

29 November 2007 - 12 January 2008

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of more than twenty photographs from Sally Mann's seminal series, Immediate Family. On display for the first time since Houk Gallery's premiering exhibitions in the early 1990s, this new show stands as an opportunity to revisit the landmark body of work 15 years after its groundbreaking introduction to the art world. Edwynn Houk Gallery is located at 745 Fifth Avenue.

Following closely on the heels of the controversy surrounding Robert Mapplethorpe's Portfolio XImmediate Family was released into the art world to simultaneous criticism and acclaim. Heralded by some critics as "timeless and magic," and chastised by others as "pornographic and exploitative," Immediate Family became the subject of a swell of journalism throughout the 1990s. More than 15 years have passed since the original exhibition. The inexorable passage of time has seen the Mann children grow into adults, a shift in the artist's subject-matter to a decade long examination of landscape photography, and Mann's recognition as one of the preeminent artists of her generation. Responsible for a renewed interest in the 8 x 10 large format camera, antique processes, and staged photographs yielding an unbridled sense of intimacy, Sally Mann's artistic shadow looms large in the imaginations of a younger generation of artists. This new exhibition stands as an opportunity to reevaluate Immediate Family and the artist's accomplishment.


Sally Mann has captured childhood as many adults wish it to be, not as a series of trivial events and encounters, but rather as a grand gothic narrative bathed in the Virginia sun. Emerging from the ashes of conflict and death, Sally Mann's Immediate Family depicts her three children as youthful ghosts at play in an idyllic Southern romp. Set within the confines of a jaded garden— a haunted landscape that reveals both past and present, corruption and innocence, life and death— the Mann family story is set aflame at the crossroads of fiction and fantasy. The relative innocence of popsicles, candy cigarettes, and roller skates are juxtaposed against the dangers of budding sexuality, and the potential for harm to seemingly vulnerable and virginal bodies. An innocent trio of young children becomes lost amidst a shadowy background that nearly envelops them; a looming backdrop that embodies the "familiar complications of time" and the childhood innocence it threatens to consume as its exuberant prey.

Sally Mann is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and three NEA fellowships. Her work appears in the permanent collection of major international museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2001, Time Magazine named her "America's Best Photographer." In 1991, her work was featured in the Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her past publications include Second Sight, At TwelveStill TimeImmediate Family, and Mother Land. The documentary film Blood Ties, directed by Steven Cantor, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1993. Most recently, Cantor completed the HBO documentary, What Remains, a chance for the director to revisit the creative process of Sally Mann. Mann was also the subject of two documentary programs aired on PBS in 2002.