Jan 24, 2008

Black Eye

Black Eye

1991 (printed 1995)

Sally Mann

(American, 1951-)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 46.8 x 58.5 cm (18 7/16 x 23 1/16 in.); Paper: 50.1 x 60.7 cm (19 3/4 x 23 7/8 in.); Matted: 76.2 x 81.3 cm (30 x 32 in.)

Gift of Friends of Photography 1995.198

Impression: 8



In 1984, Sally Mann began photographing her three children—Jesse, Virginia and Emmett—at their summer house near Lexington, Virginia. The images show the children wearing bathing suits, light summer clothes, or no clothes at all, and their self-assured posturing is spellbinding. Mann's often controversial photographs depict the fascinating narratives that expose parental fears and the vulnerability and defiance of children. In Black Eye, she focused on Virginia's upper torso and face, the child's bruised eye (resulting from a mishap with a hammock) evident as she dozes in a sheltering wing chair. Reminiscent of Victorian postmortem images, the sitter's serene face gently bathed in a soft light, her folded hands, and her oddly arranged hair make it difficult to determine whether the child is actually dead or alive.

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