Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann “To Light, And Then Return”

Gagosian Gallery Madison Avenue

poster for Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann “To Light, And Then Return”

This event has ended.

and hold the wick of mine to it
to light, and then return—
—Emily Dickinson

An exhibition of new works by Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann inspired by each other’s practices will open at Gagosian, 976 Madison Avenue, on September 14, 2023. to light, and then return— marks the first time the two artists have shown together in a dedicated exhibition.

The result of an ongoing exchange between two artists who are also celebrated writers, the exhibition is titled after the final line of “The spry arms of the wind” (c. 1866), a poem written by Emily Dickinson on an envelope scrap. Informed by their mutual fascination with material transformation and themes of elegy and historical reckoning, the works on view include de Waal’s sculptural installations featuring porcelain and other materials, and Mann’s tintypes and platinum prints.

De Waal’s sculptures consist of porcelain vessels juxtaposed with porcelain tiles, platinum, silver, and blocks of Cor-Ten steel. He groups these compositions in minimalistic wall-mounted vitrines, emphasizing their status as crafted and collected objects. Some works in a black palette that are housed in freestanding vitrines have titles that allude to poems by Seamus Heaney and Osip Mandelstam. Another body of wall-mounted works in a palette of white and silver is titled after Dickinson’s letters.

Mann’s platinum prints capture fragments of tombstones that she found at stonemasons near her Virginia home. The subtle tonalities of matte gray that result from her distinctive use of the platinum print process emphasize the stones’ faceted surfaces, revealing their elemental forms. Her tintypes picture still-life arrangements of wooden and metal tools and other objects, emphasizing their shapes and worn textures. To make them, Mann employs a nineteenth-century photographic technique that involves flowing photosensitive collodion onto a metal plate and using a large-format view camera to produce unique, direct-positive images that are both luminous and mysteriously shadowed.

Cy Twombly was responsible for introducing the two artists when he gave Mann a copy of de Waal’s family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes in 2010. Discovering their shared affinities, Mann and de Waal later discussed her photographs of Twombly’s studio in a conversation that was published in her book Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington (2016). Their exchange of ideas continues through the works in to light, and then return—, and in the dialogue published in the exhibition’s fully illustrated catalogue.

to light, and then return— is complemented by this must be the place, an exhibition of new works by de Waal at 541 West 24th Street, New York, from September 13 through October 28, 2023.



from September 14, 2023 to October 28, 2023

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