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Does William Eggleston Love Women? “You’re Damn Right!”

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The father of color photography on life, love, growing up Southern, and standing up to Cartier-Bresson.

BY JOHN HEILPERN

William Eggleston, the near-mythic southern gentleman and father of color photography, who is placed in the pantheon of the greats alongside Walker Evans and Robert Frank, greeted me with a courtly little bow at his favorite hangout in New York City, El Quijote restaurant, the joint adjoining the Chelsea Hotel.

It would be a liquid lunch for the 76-year-old Mr. Eggleston, who pointed out, in his wry, gracious way, that if he had felt like lunch he would have surely had one of El Quijote’s small, signature lobsters. He began with champagne mixed with vodka, in a tall glass.

“You look well,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said in his light southern accent. “A compliment is always nice.”

He still lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was raised a son of privilege on a 12,000-acre plantation. “Ever used a gun?” I asked. “Certainly,” he replied, “but not seriously.”
 

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PASSING THROUGH on exhibit

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Featuring works by twenty artists from our gallery roster, Passing Through pays homage to the transience of all things and the power of the photographer to immortalize experience with the click of the camera shutter. The exhibition celebrates the essential magic of the medium, which allows us to give pause in a world of rushing and inescapable impermanence.  Together, the disparate photographs and imagery of Passing Through form a journey with its own unique pace, one that mirrors the ebbs and flows of life’s seasons from the youthful rush of possibility through the expectations and trials of middle age and beyond. It is a trip by car across the American landscape, a bicycle excursion through the city, a waltz across a romantically lit room, the shifting sky-scape with ever-changing clouds, an unexpected and devastating automobile crash. The physical world traversed and inhabited by the artists in the exhibition echoes the topography of our internal worlds in that both are subject to the great equalizer of time over which we can never exert power.  To hold onto what invariably slips past, and give undeniable presence to a subject even as it begins to fade, is the photographer’s attempt to counter the fundamental dissolution of existence, out of which the most profound beauty, loss and aspirations materialize.

passingthrough