I don't see much parallel between Sturges and Mann. Sturges photographs in naturist communities (or at least did at one time) while both Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin did the early work for which they became known by photographing their family members. There was a strong connection to the subjects in Mann and Gowin's photographs that simply jumps out and grabs me. There is also a strong connection to place in those early photographs--specifically the American South.
The only thing Sturges had in common with the Mann and Gowin photos mentioned was that their subjects were often unclothed. Personally, I really haven't found much in Sturges' photography that moves me beyond admiration of the flesh.
Both Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin's more recent work has moved far beyond the photos depicted. Unfortunately, the last work I saw by Gowin was moving into digital. Sally Mann's work moved the other direction--wet plates.
Not sure that anyone on this thread has mentioned pornography and that would be pretty wide of the mark. I have just purchased Immediate Family and love the work therein. i quite like the fact that it is a little challengng and disturbing for me and that reflects on myself not the work or its creator!
Any UK folks can remind me of the uproar of the images posted in Times/Telegraph a couple of years ago - who were they by?
Well - without looking into it deeper - I find Sturges' work extremely creepy - along the lines of david hamilton (remember that guy??) taste-wise. One can't help but think it's solely for his personal titillation. I can't see a way to navigate out of that bind. And Mann's photographs of her kids? I don't think the nudity is an issue at ALL (for me anyway) - they're kids for god's sake. Her kids. They're not being sexualized the way that a Sturges kid is. But they're too emotionally close - (mann i mean) to be art. For me. It's impossible to distance the author from the subject enough. You can tell that there's nothing going on outside of the protective gaze of the mother.
http://www.bandwmag.com/backissues/cover12.jpg Sadly it seems easier to talk than to express with images. I could say something snarky, but I won't. Unless I already did.
Well - I'm not trying to pass any sort of absolute moral judgement on sturges. I'm just saying he gives me the WILLIES! I'm SURE others will see merit where I don't - that's a given - and the only thing I can say with absolute surety about photography or art.