Free Essay with a Formal Analysis of The Three Graces and Vamping on Cumberland by Sally Mann

Published: 2022-02-28
Free Essay with a Formal Analysis of The Three Graces and Vamping on Cumberland by Sally Mann
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Human Art
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 905 words
8 min read

The treatment of nudity as something secret and sacred is a concern that cuts across all the societies. Sally Mann is a reality image maker whose thrill emanates from creating images of the human creation in naked postures, never to conceal anything from the viewer. Her chutzpah in making such paintings, together with her fanatical love for fantastical and fictitious images which are based on reality has earned her fame through more criticism than praise. In her gelatin print of 1994 entitled "The Three Graces," Mann constructs overly 'obscene' images of a tripartite nude ladies, holding each other's hands while jets of urine ooze from their visually exposed genitalia. A glance at the mood of the girls reveals that they are exhilarated and are comfortable doing what they do alone. In another controversial painting, known as "Vamping on Cumberland," Mann makes yet another image of three girls in self-exposure; two of the girls totally naked while another at the back wraps a cloth on her upper abdomen. However, the appreciation of Mann's painting does not require a prejudicial judgment but, a more optimistic impression. In most of her interview about her paintings, she has always insisted that she "brings to the forefront what other mothers wish to hide" (, web) This paper argues that Mann's images are the true depictions of nature without the biasness created through socialization.

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The Three Graces

'The Three Graces' is an image of three girls exposing their nudity just behind a solitude hill. The sky behind them is cloudy and a hill stands defiantly right behind them. One girl, who is in the middle, if facing the hill while the rest are facing the foreground. All of them are comfortably urinating in cheerful moods as though they enjoy the hedonism that accompanies the letting out of urine. This is more so if we consider the visually excited girl at the far right who swings her hands in the air as an indication of celebration.


The theme of this photo is to expose to the world that happiness has no boundaries. From the look of things, the three girls are in celebratory mood, far from the rest of the world and appreciate nature in a unique manner (, web). However much the photos appear obscene, the intention of the maker was simply to appreciate the beauty of nature devoid of social definitions. The girls have come of age and are just coming to the realization about their sexuality. This self-exposure allows each one of them to appreciate the other while each person can also appreciate her own body. In her statement about her nude paintings, Sally commented that "I like to make people a little uncomfortable. It encourages them to examine who they are and why they think the way they do." This is essentially the overriding theme of almost all her photographs.


The composition of the painting focuses on the self-exposure of the girls which they seem to undertake without any fear of victimization (, web). This is seen by the way the three expose their genitalia without any a second thought. It evident that at least each of the girls is nude and that is not ashamed of being as such. The main aim of the image creation was to expose what the world has been avoiding to expose so that to clear the air about the anathema that the society associates with this act (Boxer, web).

How the photo relates to the other photos

The closely related photo is that of "Vamping on the Cumberland." This is because the actors are three and the three are also excited about their acts just like in the former. However, in the latter, only two play an active role in self-exposure while the other remaining one is engaging in voyeurism. This does not, however, make any difference because all the three seem to be happy with one another.

In the photo "Sally Mann" (1991) a girl also appears naked and showing her abdomen. The relationship it has with The Three Graces is that the actor is naked but not bothered about it. Sally Mann Modest Child 1998 is a painting of a young girl who is also naked but is worried about her nipples. She covers them with her arms, unlike in the other photos where the girls are not bothered with their being nude. Sally Mann Vinland 1992 is also different because the girl shown in the photo is wearing a lingerie. Candy Cigarette is another picture which stands different from the rest. However much it exposes what the society loathes, it takes a different approach in which the actor is fully dressed but, holding a cigarette in her left hand. "The Way I Found the Baby" is another painting that takes a different shape in addressing this common theme. This is because the baby in the photo is not showing her nakedness like the rest. However, the remaining three photos entitled "Sally Mann, Untitled, 1980-1989", "Sally Man, Fun Picture #3, 1992", and "Sally Mann, Venus After School, 1992," the girl is exposing her nakedness to the viewers.

Work cited

"Sally Mann." N. p., 2018. Web. 9 Feb. 2018.

"Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings." N. p., 2018. Web. 9 Feb. 2018.

Boxer, Sarah. "The Maternal Eye Of Sally Mann." The Atlantic. N. p., 2018. Web. 9 Feb. 2018.

Mann, Sally. "Sally Mann'S Exposure." N. p., 2017. Web. 9 Feb. 2018.

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