So here are some images from Proud Flesh, Sally Mann's pictures of her husband Larry (thanks for the suggestion, Suzanne Revy). They are notable because they are taken of a man by a woman, but also because they go against the norm of the male nude - they're not heroic, muscular or virile.
The pictures focus on Larry's adult muscular dystrophy, on the failure of his body, on its fall into physical darkness. These are photographs of human frailty, where the fragility of the medium mirrors the bodily decay.
I'm not sure if these pictures reflect badly on Larry Mann, if, as Sally says, they "come at the expense of the sitter".But they do reveal his weakness and his impotence; he has no response to what has struck him down. If they didn't do that, if they showed some phoney nobility of spirit, some humanity in the face of illness, they wouldn't be nearly so strong.
This is what John B.Ravenal has to say about the pictures in The Flesh and the Spirit.
"The long, sometimes awkward poses endured in the underheated barn that serves as Mann's studio, with minimal props and Spartan surroundings, have produced a sustained reflection on aging and mortality forged in a collaboration based on trust and mutual respect.The works reveal a subject willing to make himself vulnerable and to be measured against the idealized images thatstill pervade our conception of masculinity, and taken by a photographer aware of the unusual opportunity presented to her. Reflecting on the situation, Mann stated, "Larry and I both understand how ethically complex and potent the act of making photographs is , how freighted with issues of honesty, responsibility, power and complicity, and how so many good images come at the expense of the sitter, in one way or another. These new images, we both knew, would come at his."