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In her memoir Hold Still, photographer Sally Mann wrote of the “tinge of sorrow” that permeates life in Lexington, Virginia, the sleepy Southern town where Mann created her most iconic images and where she and the artist Cy Twombly were friends and confidants for more than 20 years. Here Mann writes intimately of her relationship with Twombly and the photographs she made of his studio before his death in 2011, now on view at Gagosian Gallery in New York in the exhibition Remembered Light.

The older you get as an artist the higher the risks of success. The more work that surrounds a career, the more likely that the entrapment of past production will constrict future work, tying us ever more tightly to our style, our themes, our aesthetic past.

For example, when I was just starting out as an artist, I’d take pictures of anything, just for the sheer joy of seeing what it looked like as a photograph. Over time I began to take pictures of subjects that I had an opinion about, or of subjects that illuminated an intellectual concept that interested me. I don’t mean I was illustrating a polemic; I always defer to the imperatives of beauty, lyricism and the universal resonance of felicitous

  • Words and Photography:
    Sally Mann

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