An Afternoon with William Eggleston, living icon - W MAGAZINE
A visit with the 77-year old American photographer, whose democratic vision remains surprising and relevant in 2016
By Alexandra Pechman, photos by Eric Chakeen on 26 October 2016
From being honored at Aperture Foundation's Annual Fall Benefit, an exhibition at David Zwirner NYC, a cover story for New York Times Style Magazine, to an interview for W Magazine, the art world cannot get enough of William Eggleston. A re-edition of The Democratic Forest accompanies the new selection of works on exhibit at Zwirner and almost every major publication is reviewing and interviewing the artist. The resurgence of popularity is certainly well documented. Here are our favorite sections in Eggleston's W Magazine interview below:
As ever, he cut a deliberately dapper figure, dressed for our interview in a crisp white shirt, a patterned ascot tie, and black oxford shoes with a neatly tied bow. “I think one should look great,” he said by way of explanation. He balanced an American Spirit between his ring and middle fingers — he is hardly ever not smoking — and held a Leica m3 that he noted had once belonged to Lee Friedlander. Eggleston still photographs nearly every day. Though his pictures have no particular geographic center of gravity, his own personal mythology still owes much to his time in New York in the 70's, when he showed the first all-color photography exhibition at MoMA, lived at the Chelsea Hotel, and hung out with the likes of Viva, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed.
The Democratic Forest is a series Eggleston shot across America from 1983 to 1986, and which was originally published in 1989 with a selection of 150 images from thousands of photographs. Last year, Steidl published a 10-volume box set of about 150 pages each — that's nearly 1,500 images total. And now David Zwirner Books has published a further selection from "The Democratic Forest," to accompany the gallery's show. It helps explain Eggleston’s oft-cited refrain that he doesn’t care about anyone’s pictures except his own.
“That’s the truth,” he declared. “There are plenty of other fine people out there. But I spend most of my time looking at my own things. There’s so many to look at. It takes up a lot of time.”
Eggleston has never been one to to read about photography, however, noting that most critics “talk to hear themselves talk.” He prefers to read technical books about quantum physics. “People I feel I’m closest to would be Stephen Hawking and my deceased friend Carl Sagan. I wasn’t born at the right time to know Mr. Einstein,” he said, with a wry smile. “I think we’re doing the same thing, strange as that sounds. After all the study, images, … [physics] sums up very simply, like [photography], probability. Not to be confused with possibility or what can be accurately predicted. It’s just something that probably will happen.”