Ms. Mann’s approach to her subject certainly had precedents in art. In the 1920s the photographers Imogen Cunningham and Nell Dorr took nude pictures of children in the wilds as expressions of their own interest in naturalism. But Ms. Mann’s images arrived just as the country was beginning to fall deeper and deeper under the thrall of a new culture of obsessive child-rearing, and she seemed, however voyeuristically, merely to be letting her children be.
But she was not letting them be, or so it is implied in “What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann” on Cinemax this evening. It is one of the most exquisitely intimate portraits not only of an artist’s process, but also of a marriage and a life, to appear on television in recent memory.