Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit

About the Authors

Sally Mann is one of America's most renowned photographers. She has received numerous awards, including NEA, NEH, and Guggenheim Foundation grants, and her work is held by major institutions internationally. Mann's many books include What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994), Proud Flesh (2009), and The Flesh And the Spirit (2010). She lives in Lexington, Virginia.

John Ravenal is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

David Levi Strauss is the chair of the MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department, School of Visual Arts, New York.

Anne Wilkes Tucker is the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit

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Photographs by Sally Mann; Text by by John Ravenal; Essays by David Levi Strauss and Anne Wilkes Tucker

Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit is the artist's first thematic survey focusing on her 30-year exploration of the human form, tackling often difficult subject matter and making unapologetically sensual images that are simultaneously bold and lyrical. This first in-depth look at this world-renowned artist's approach to the body was published in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to accompany its landmark 2010 exhibition.


This beautifully produced publication includes Mann's earliest platinum prints from the late 1970s, Polaroid still lifes, early color work of her children, haunting landscape images, recent self-portraits, and nude studies of her husband. The series document Mann's interest in the body as principal subject, with the associated issues of vulnerability and mortality lending an elegiac note to her images.


In bringing them together, author and curator John Ravenal examines the varied ways in which Mann's experimental approach, including ambrotypes and gelatin silver prints made from collodian wet-plate negatives, moves her subjects from the corporeal to the ethereal.

  • Hardcover
  • 11.5 x 9 inches
  • 200 pages, 225 four-color images
  • Published: 2010

Editorial Reviews

"Few photographers are as unapologetically poetic, or as confrontational, as Sally Mann. Notorious for portraying her children in various states of undress, Ms. Mann takes a long look at herself in her new book. Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit features dozens of recent self-portraits, nude figure studies of her husband, and some 'C.S.I.'-like images from a visit to a 'body farm' in Tennessee, where forensic scientists are trained. She has lately been coating her negatives with collodion, and the cracking and dripping that this antiquated wet process is prone to has only enhanced her death-suffused romanticism." —Wall Street Journal

"As a whole, the book underscores Mann's commitment to following her personal, local interests, unafraid if she runs headlong into taboos. Placed in the larger context of contemporary attitudes toward ageing, illness, death and innocence her images tug at deep-seated contradictions we do not wish to acknowledge. Her gift is that she imbues them with a beauty that knocks the wind from your belly." —The Telegraph

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