Sally Mann: Mother Land: Recent Landscapes of Georgia and Virginia

25 September - 8 November 1997

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce Mother Land: Recent Landscapes of Georgia and Virginia, by Sally Mann. This exhibition will be on view from 25 September through 8 November 1997.  Sally Mann will be present for the reception in New York on 25 September from 6:00-8:00 PM.  

Sally Mann established her reputation as one of the leading contemporary artists of the 90s with her well known Immediate Family series. Spinning a web of fact and fiction, Mann explored the dynamics of childhood in a body of work that featured her three children growing up in rural Virginia. Moreover, she created a sense of place that viewers recognize as distinctly her own: languid, lush and steeped in Southern mystique.


After 12 years of photographing her family, Mann's focus shifted to the landscape of her native Virginia and southern neighbor, Georgia. The result is two distinct series which, like  Immediate Family, resonate with beauty and lyric symbolism. One mesmerizing image from the Virginia series reveals a vista of trees where a clearing is strangely illuminated by the glow of the moon. Like others in this series, this work is evocative and moody. The radically different  Georgia pictures will surprise even Mann's most dedicated followers. Accidental but fortuitous "blemishes" infuse each image with a haunting sense of memory. Perhaps in homage to Stonewall Jackson, in whose house Mann was born, several resemble a Civil War battlefield where smoke still hangs lurid in the air.  


An excerpt from the introduction Mann wrote for the exhibition catalogue best describes the spirit of her new landscapes:


For Southerners, memory is most often an act of will- and once we conjure it, we are unashamed to overlay it with sentiment.  Our history of defeat and loss sets us apart from other Americans and because of it, we embrace the Proustian concept that the only true paradise is a lost paradise.  But we know that love emerges from this loss, becomes memory and memory becomes art. 


It is a Southern pastime to wallow in family and laud the distinctive light and spiritualize the rivers.  When we travel to the limpid north, we miss our night air, oppressive with the smell of appalling fecundity.  And of course we hold most dear our land.


Unique among her contemporaries, Mann has enjoyed a reputation for technical virtuosity. Her work combines intellectual content and stunning object quality in a manner seldom achieved since the time of Stieglitz and Strand. With  Mother Land, Mann surpasses her earlier accomplishments and solves the technical barriers to creating photographs of this quality as large as 40 by 50 inches. Her vision is executed with an aesthetic familiar to the 19th century pioneers of landscape photography. However, at this scale, Mann's landscapes assert a presence that is unmistakably contemporary.                                


Edwynn Houk, of the recently dissolved Houk Friedman, inaugurates his new gallery at

745 Fifth Avenue with this exhibition of photographs by Sally Mann. Edwynn Houk Gallery originated in Chicago and operated there from 1980 to 1991, when Mr. Houk moved to New York to open the gallery Houk Friedman. The New York gallery specialized in the Modernist period of 1917 to 1939, and for 6 years exhibited significant works by such artists as Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, André Kertész, and El Lissitzky. 


Mr. Houk will continue to specialize in vintage work from the 20s and 30s and serve as the exclusive representative for the estates of Brassaï, Bill Brandt, and Dorothea Lange. Edwynn Houk Gallery will also serve as the exclusive representative for Sally Mann and a select number of contemporary photographers.