Sally Mann’s South

The iconic photographer’s first international retrospective opens in D.C

Easter Dress

Sally Mann’s Deep South, Easter Dress (1986).

Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Photographer and writer Sally Mann is familiar to many Virginians. A nearly lifelong resident of Rockbridge County, Mann’s earliest works, including Platinum Prints and Still Time, were first exhibited in the Shenandoah Valley in 1974 and 1987. Even her large exhibitions, What Remains (2004) and Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit (2010), occurred in Washington, D.C. and Richmond. 

Then there are the familiar themes she explores, including Southern identity, the rural land and her immediate family. But a solo exhibition of Mann’s work, titled Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings, which opens at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C. March 4, considers her legacy not as a Southerner, or a Virginian, or even as a woman-artist, but as an internationally-important photographer who has worked tirelessly on her craft since 1969. 

In June, the exhibition will travel to another five museums, including the Jeu de Paume in Paris, making this Mann’s first international retrospective. 

A Thousand Crossings has been in the making since 2014, when the NGA was made steward of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s collection of 25 Mann photographs taken between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s. The addition of these works make the NGA the largest public repository of her work.

One thing that surfaces in this exhibition is Mann’s position as an innovator, perfecting many black-and-white and color photography techniques over the years. When she learned wet-plate collodion printing in 1997 and tintype printing in the 2000s, Mann was one of the first photographers to return to these 19th-century processes. 

Wet-plate collodion was invented in 1881 and tintype predates the Civil War. Both were advances in photographers’ quests to capture a more accurate depiction of the human figure in a faster time.

Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings at the National Gallery of Art will be on view at the National Gallery of Art March 4 – May 28. The exhibition will also be on view later this year at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum