Proud Flesh

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What is it about southern artists and decay? Whether it’s photographers like William Eggleston or writers like Flannery O’Conner, the south seems to be a great place to show things going a little to seed.

Of course decay and death needn’t to be moldy and unpleasant it could be beautiful in the right hands like those of photographer Sally Mann.

Having famously taken her intimate pictures of her children, she now turns her lens on long time husband, Larry who suffers from muscular dystrophy.

There have been many painters over the centuries who have chosen female lovers as there subjects, so it’s interesting to have the tables turned and see what happens when a women looks at the ageing object of her affections.

Mann makes her subject appear by turns mysterious, vulnerable and tender.

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Some of the poses feel almost feminine and are a little reminiscent of Bonnard’s images of his wife Marthe in that they portray the intimacy between subject and photographer. It’s clear that no one could no this human being better than Sally Mann.

Naturally all these large format images are beautifully constructed with an attention to detail and a sense of style that turn potentially commonplace imagery into a meditation on mortality.

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