MANN Robert Charles, Photography

Artist statement

I hope one finds my photographs an experience rich in dreams and that they induce an exploration of the psyche. Several different lensless cameras are used to accomplish this. The pinhole camera has a way of suggesting objects rather than representing them because of the particular quality the pinhole image produces. This suggestive character carries with it a more profound mystery, which is not found on the surface of the image but rather in the possibilities of interpretation. The pinhole camera provides the aesthetic means needed for a subjective experience by the viewer. When this technique is combined with my themes and choice of subjects, the photographs begin to breath and become metaphoric environments.

A singular characteristic of pinhole photography is the fact that exposures are quite long, varying from seconds to hours, or in the case of these solargraphs, to months. This cumulative exposure produces effects that cannot be seen by the eye. Moving objects become translucent, having a vibrating quality, and some objects may become completely transparent in the process due to displacement during exposure. There are objects in my photographs that produce effects that seem unassociated with the object itself.

The Solargraph Series is an experiment in both method and concept. Using the idea that the path of the sun through the sky changes each day and that a long exposure will yield a cumulative image of these paths, I point the pinhole camera toward the sky where the sun will be during the six months from solstice to solstice, either winter to summer or summer to winter. The final image is not a montage of several different images, but rather the result of a single continuous exposure for six months of the sun. This work bridges old school traditional techniques with modern digital techniques. The prints for each image are made on pure cotton fiber based paper with permanent inks.

An image's significance may change with every choice I make concerning its qualities of contrast, density, and tone. A photographic image can be printed in thousands of ways. The tactile quality of the print is as important as the choice of materials.

These photographs carry the possibility of many messages. They are enigmas born to be deciphered by the viewer.

Robert Charles MANN


When Robert was eight years old he made his first photographic print with a negative from his father’s archive. This, mind you, is before he had even taken a photograph. Robert’s father, who was also a photographer amongst many other renaissance man qualities, had a darkroom in their home. As a result Robert discovered the magic of photography in reverse so to speak. His mother, a concert pianist, influenced his particular photographic bent toward a more expressionist vision with her repertoire of 19th century impressionist composers.

During the 1980’s Robert was involved with many experimental music and performance art projects incorporating electronic and prepared instruments with visual installations. He started photographing for Exposure Magazine and concurrently took on the role of studio manager and exclusive printer for Herb Ritts producing all of his early books and editorial work. He soon became one of the most sought after photographic specialists in Los Angeles printing the work of Helmut Newton, Mary Ellen Mark, Michel Comte, Dennis Hopper, Peter Lindbergh and Sheila Metzner among many others. His work also includes producing prints for Twelve Tree and Twin Palms photographic books as well as the Hollywood Archives. Robert has published several photographic processes and his darkroom is on the cover of the renowned book “The New Darkroom Handbook” and featured inside. A count made several years ago by looking at past work documents proved that Robert has made over one million prints.

In 1989, with an international reputation in photography and photographic printing, Robert moved to Paris France. Today his work is made primarily with pinhole cameras and traditional nobel metal based printing techniques that achieve his particular photographic vision. He also composes music for films, television and multimedia. 

Recently Robert has been working with Brad Pitt, first producing his story of Angelina Jolie for W Magazine and continues printing Pitt’s massive archive of negatives. Pitt has become a collector of Robert’s work from the “Orbit Series” and “Flower Series”.

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To know more

One Month - One Artist is a monthly event to make you discover the artists of the gallery.

Find the one dedicated to Robert Charles Mann published in December 2019, to download here 

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2021  Enfances, collective exhibition, Galerie Capazza, Nançay

2020  Le torse d’une femme a la pureté d’un vase, grandes courbes simples d’un fruit désiré, collective exhibition, Galerie Capazza, Nançay
Participation at Art Paris 2020 with the Galerie Capazza of Nançay, from September 10th to 13th, booth D 01
Cardi Projects, Cardi Gallery, Londres Angleterre
Found Waves, EXUO, Tours France

2019  L’Arbre, c’est le temps rendu visible, collective exhibition, Galerie Capazza, Nançay

2018-2019  Solargraphs, Galerie Asinerie du Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Chaumont-sur-Loire France

2017-2018  Meta Paysages, Galeries Hautes du Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Chaumont-sur-Loire France

2012  Then Came Now, Musée de Vendôme, Vendôme

2011  Saints and Sinnners, Antebellum Gallery, Los Angeles, California
Robert Charles Mann, Les Curieuses, Paris France

2009  Robert Mann, Galerie Basia Embiricos, Paris, France

2006  Robert Mann, Ritual Gallery, Paris, France

2005  Pingyao International, Pingyao Museum, Pingyao, China

2004  Robert Charles Mann, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Summer Group Exhibition, Drabinsky Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2003  Marubi 2003, National Gallery of Arts, Tirana, Albania
Orbits, Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Landscapes, Hands, Flowers, Charles Nes Gallery, New York, New York
Pinhole and photograms, Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2002  New works, Charles Nes, New York, New York
Reflections, Lonsdale Gallery, Canada

Flowers, Michael Dunsford Gallery, Seattle, Washington

2001  One Off, Special Photographers Gallery, London, England
American photographers, French Institute, New York, New York
Why pinhole?, Visual Studies Workshop Gallery, Rochester, New York
Vues de Touraine, Maison du Loir et Cher, Blois, France

2000  Out There Here, Provincetown Museum of Art, Provincetown, Massachusetts
Tracing Shadows, Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Photo L.A. 2000, Charles Nes, Santa Monica Civic, Santa Monica, California

1999  Millennium, Special Photographers Gallery, London, England
Magiae Naturalis, Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Pinhole Art, Ohio Art League, Columbus, Ohio
Window Series, Pinhole Visions Gallery, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

1998  Sans objectif, Carré Davidson Galerie, Tours, France
Paysages Touraine, Carré Davidson Galerie, Tours, France

Camera Ready, York Quay Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Pinhole International, Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Canada

1997  Avant premier, Claude Samuel Galerie, Paris, France
Esprit des Lieux, Château de Tours, Tours, France
Petit format, Carré Davidson Galerie, Tours, France

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