Filtering by Tag: William Eggleston

William Eggleston 'At Zenith' in Musee Magazine

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Eggleston is a big deal in the photography world. He is credited with the invention, or at least the dispersions of the idea of color photography. His work is legendary. Through the 60s and 70s he took America in it’s bleakest condition and added a splash of color.

Sometime in the mid 90s, Eggleston started taking pictures of clouds from his car window. From there he naturally progressed to taking pictures of clouds as an art form, focusing his lens skyward and capturing what’s above.

At first view, someone unfamiliar with Eggleston’s work would perhaps say, “These are just pictures of clouds.” The word ‘just’ is very important. Employing a time tested method, I made my way to the gallery with someone completely ignorant of not only Eggleston, but of artistic photography in general.

“These are just pictures of clouds.”

“Not just”

“Fine, these are pictures of clouds.”

“They are a Rorschach test. You can see anything in them.”

“I see clouds.”

What my friend lacked was a reference point. The clouds are clouds and our brains perceive the images. Young children lay in the grass looking up at the clouds and see rabbits, dragons, faces – but ultimately, they see clouds.

The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto takes pictures of the sea. His pictures, black and white, all look fairly similar. They look like the sea. Black and white, with a flat clear sky of gray separated by the horizon from a darker ruffled mass. So why is Sugimoto lauded for his seascapes, while I poke fun at Eggleston?

The Japanese are known for their minimalist approach to art. There is a history that welcomes Sugimoto into their ranks. We go to an Eggleston show expecting the same thing he was doing 10, 20 years ago. The artist must move forward, and the pictures should be scrutinized as new work.

The cloudscapes are innocent. The sky is blue and I see a Rhino in the white curls.

Review by John Hutt

Photo Credit:

WILLIAM EGGLESTON At Zenith I, 1979-2013 (C) Eggleston Artistic Trust.  Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

William Eggleston Book Signing Featured in W Magazine Online

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William Eggleston At Zenith Signing at Gagosian NY

Although he is a man of remarkably few words, William Eggleston most resembles the gallant Southern rascal of his reputation when he is reclining, his legs scissored, a rapt audience before him—in other words, when it looks as if he is about to spin a great yarn. So the Memphis photographer sat, last week, before an expectant huddle of family members and advisors, in the private library of Gagosian Gallery’s Madison Avenue offices in New York. Upstairs in the gallery, “At Zenith,” a show of Eggleston’s photographs of the cerulean sky first taken during the late ’70s, but little seen since, had just been installed. (The exhibition opened on Saturday, October 25.) Easing into a sofa, Eggleston, 74, noted his pleasure at the way the pictures looked on the walls, but otherwise appeared very comfortable saying very little. A photographer of the everyday epiphany, Eggleston is also a master of the excruciatingly grand pause. At last, he announced, “I’ll see my great friend Ed Ruscha tonight.” Later that evening, Ruscha was to be honored at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala, where he singled out Eggleston for an unofficial “suave man award.” For Eggleston, that was something of a life achievement honor. His persona as a rakish Southern gentleman of enormous persuasion—on the art world, on photographers and filmmakers, on women throughout his life—was formed early on.

William Eggleston in Memphis.  CLICK HERE to view a video from the Eggleston opening at the Whitney Museum. William Eggleston in Memphis.

On this afternoon, Eggleston was dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, gleaming black loafers, and an extra-wide striped prep tie that he’d flipped about his neck with nonchalant élan, like a scarf. His silvery hair was neatly slicked back. “If I was as dramatic-looking as Bill Eggleston,” Ruscha once remarked, “I’d probably do nothing but photograph myself.” Eggleston first turned his camera heaven-wards while driving under the big Southern sky, on a 1978 road trip from Georgia to Memphis with the music writer Stanley Booth. “I just looked out the window,” Eggleston said, pointing his index finger towards the ceiling, “and there it was!” Initially, he shot the passing clouds from the car with a Polaroid camera. “They looked like frescoes,” he said. The overhead shots he subsequently took with his Kodak while prone on the ground have the same painterly quality that made Eggleston’s color photography so pioneering early on. These cloud pictures were first collected in 1979 in Wedgwood Blue; the series has now been collected into a new volume from SteidlWilliam Eggleston: At Zenith. (Eggleston will be signing copies tonight at the Gagosian Shop.) The book is dedicated to John Szarkowski—the late MOMA curator who first exposed Eggleston’s radical work to an art world that had previously regarded color photography as a commercial vulgarity—and opens with a W.B. Yeats poem. Eggleston’s son Wlliam, arriving with a galley of the book, implored his father to read the passage aloud for his audience. “You have such a great voice, Dad.” Eggleston made a brief show of protest—his eyes are not so great, and he did not have his reading glasses on hand—but soon he picked up the book. He cleared his throat, and began: “‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths/Enwrought with golden and silver light …’” As he continued on, Eggleston’s previously matter-of-fact voice took on a roguish warmth, as if he were regaling an entire Memphis bar with a story he knew was bound to kill. “‘… I have spread my dreams under your feet/Tread softly because you tread on my dreams,’” he finished, his eyes crinkling, and the room broke into applause. To read the feature on W online, please click here.

Announcing William Eggleston's New Steidl Title 'At Zenith'

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At Zenith. Photographs by William Eggleston. Steidl, 2014. 88 pp., 40 color illustrations, 13½x10¼".

Publisher's Description In April 1979, a book of fifteen colour photographs by William Eggleston was published in a limited edition of twenty. The photographs were taken from the second chapter of an unpublished larger work entitled Wedgewood Blue. Amidst his publications Chromes (2011), Los Alamos Revisited (2012), and the upcoming Democratic Forest (2014) and Election Eve (2016), all documenting his lifetime work, At Zenith constitutes a calm and experimental intermezzo from Eggleston's familiar loudness and intensity of colours. The photographer pointed his camera at the sky to focus on the clouds rolling by.

The book is scheduled for release on March 2014. It can be pre-ordered here.

Victor Dima - William Eggleston

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Inspiration / William Eggleston

on 2013/07/14

Following in the footsteps of Robert Frank, William Eggleston is one of those names that screams “America”. He is one of the fathers of color photography and has been a major influence in both photography and film since his “discovery” by the great Szarkowski. Eggleston, in his own words, has been at war with the obvious his entire career. I have always been interested in the photography of the “mundane” (as it reveals life to be anything but) so I had looked at his work in the past. Recently however I have had the chance to get to know him better as a photographer by watching William Eggleston in the Real World, a documentary I strongly recommend. Eggleston’s work has an immense power of description, and this documentary captures very well both his personality and his artistic approach:

‘I am at war with the obvious.’ This is one of Eggleston’s rare public statements of intent, to be inscribed on a banner flying in defiance of the fact that he tends to photograph only the most obvious stuff on the planet: the unspectacular, random, ephemeral stuff that’s out there on the edges of country roads and suburban driveways, on a bureau or a bed. Signs and toys and trash are given iconic stature, mysteries hiding in plain sight. Everything shown to be simultaneously familiar and strange, recognizable and unknowable.'

-From William Eggleston in the Real World

It’s hard not to think about various layers of reality seeing Eggleston searching, composing, looking through the viewfinder. One might think he’s peeling at the mundane to expose the hidden treasures of life, but Eggleston is much more zen than that. He looks and photographs, and by doing so reveals that there are no hidden treasures underneath the surface. Photographing the mundane does nothing more than expose it, as it is, in all its glory and unhidden beauty. He looks for signs, for landscapes of banality, for the places and things that are such strong signifiers of the human condition that we take them for granted, and asks us to look at them with honesty, without judgement and without commentary. His photographs of gas stations and signage are particularly interesting to me: we use these landmarks as helpers when we navigate, and Eggleston seems to tell us to stop and look before we make that left turn past the big red sign.

I leave you with two more quotes, both from the documentary: one by Michael Almereyda and one by Eggleston himself. They need no explanation. None of Eggleston’s work needs an explanation, and that is precisely the point: photography speaks for itself.

'Of course some photographs, like bricks, stack up differently than others. One measure of Eggleton’s gift is that it’s fairly impossible to spend time with his pictures without experiencing a kind of contagious recharged awareness of the richness of the visible world. Extended exposure to his photos is likely to recondition the way you see and the way you think about seeing. Everything is worth looking at, the pictures say, worth photographing.'

-From William Eggleston in the Real World

This last quote sums up the entirety of his body of work, and reveals (to me at least) the zen of William Eggleston:

'The trouble is – whatever it is about pictures, photographs, it’s just about impossible to follow up with words. They don’t have anything to do with each other. [...] What is there to talk about?'

- William Eggleston

Text courtesy of Victor Dima

Tate Modern: William Eggleston

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William Eggleston

Tate Modern: Display
15 April 2013 – 11 May 2014

William Eggleston Untitled 1970–73 Photograph, dye transfer print on paper 406 x 508 mm Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Jane and Michael Wilson

Known for his rich and complex images of the American South, William Eggleston is largely credited with establishing the acceptance of colour in fine art photography.

Eggleston began to experiment with colour in the 1960s. At that time, colour photography was principally associated with commercial industries such as advertising, and was considered unsuitable for fine art photography. In 1972 he began making prints using a highly complex and expensive process called ‘dye transfer’, which allows various colours within a photographic print to be printed as separations. Each colour is printed in its richest form, maintaining strong red and green tones within a single image. The prints are also extremely durable and will not fade.

Mostly shooting in and around his hometown of Memphis,Tennessee, Eggleston depicts the banal and everyday. This room draws upon two series. Chromes is a selection of images from 1969-74 using Kodachrome or Ektachrome film, whileElection Eve was taken during the run-up to the 1976 presidential election, and records a road trip around Plains County and Sumter County, Georgia, where Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters were based. The ten images from 1976 depict life in what often appears an abandoned and outmoded corner of the country at a moment of high tension and anxiety on the national stage.

Both series include characteristic elements of Eggleston’s style, such as bold colourful interiors, cars and gasoline stations, and portraits of individuals known to Eggleston as well as strangers encountered in the street. Eggleston pays close attention to the complexity of the formal organisation of the frame, often employing strong diagonal lines and reflections, but he also relishes the strength of strong contrasts in colour with vivid reds, blues and greens.

Though these images record a particular place at a certain point in time, Eggleston is not interested in their documentary qualities. Instead, when asked what he is photographing, Eggleston simply answers ‘Life today’.

William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives and works.

Curated by Simon Baker and Shoair Mavlian. The Richard B. & Jeanne Donovan Fisher Gallery

Part of Energy and Process, Level 4

Text and image courtesy of the Tate Modern

The Wall Street Journal: William Eggleston

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Through the Lens of Eggleston

The selection of William Eggleston’s photographs, “At War with the Obvious,” currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, reminds us why he an American master. For the June issue of WSJ. Magazine, to be included with this Saturday’s issue of the The Wall Street Journal, the legendary photographer agreed to shoot part of his extensive collection of Leica and Canon cameras. Though Mr. Eggleston admits he’s not a fan of digital photography, this image was captured on a Fuji X-Pro 1. Earlier this year, Mr. Eggleston participated in an exhibition of famous photographers using Fujifilm X-Series cameras, called “Photography.” (See related article).

Commissioning Mr. Eggleston to shoot for the June issue was entirely the result of the persistence of WSJ. Magazine’s photography director, Jennifer Pastore. “I just kept calling and calling, then one day, the photograph is in my inbox.” Ms. Pastore also credits Mr. Eggleston’s son, Winston Eggleston, who manages the photographer’s affairs and estate, with making the shoot happen.

The photograph taken by William Eggleston for WSJ. Magazine of some of his Leica and Canon cameras.

Click here to view some of the photos from the exhibit, “At War with the Obvious,” on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, N.Y., through July 28, 2013.

Text courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

NYT: William Eggleston

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The Sacred of the Material World

William Eggleston at Metropolitan Museum of Art

An “Untitled (Memphis)” William Eggleston photograph, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a house dwarfed by a tricycle in the foreground, from 1970.
Published: May 2, 2013

“It’s like ‘The Shining,’ ” a young man said to his companion, who agreed with a chuckle. I was eavesdropping as they talked about one of William Eggleston’s 36 transcendentally beautiful photographs from the 1970s and early ’80s in “At War With the Obvious,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It depicts a grungy, turquoise-tiled shower and bath alcove. Shot straight-on with deadpan objectivity, the image does have an ominous feeling. Shower scenes being a staple of horror movies, and Stanley Kubrick, the director of “The Shining,” being a master of highly stylized dread, I could understand the comment.

I thought it was interesting, though, that this viewer’s comparison was not to the work of another photographer like Walker Evans or Garry Winogrand, who, like Mr. Eggleston, made transfiguring images of ordinary people, places and things. Then I remembered the exhibition’s introductory wall text, which says that Mr. Eggleston’s work has influenced artists better known for work in other fields, including the musician David Byrne and the filmmakers David Lynch and Joel and Ethan Coen. Only one person mentioned, Nan Goldin, is a photographer, and the diaristic, snapshotlike aesthetic for which she is known is different from Mr. Eggleston’s more exactingly formal and rarely overtly autobiographical approach.

So my fellow viewer’s comment did not come out of the blue. Prompted by the wall text, I too found myself seeing almost every photograph in the show as a moment in some noirish, low-budget movie set somewhere in Mississippi, where Mr. Eggleston has made most of his work.

Looking at the bleached and rusted sign advertising Wonder Bread at the edge of a plowed field in a picture from around 1970, I imagined a man on the run from gangsters driving by and seeing it as a metaphor for his own broken-down dreams. In another picture from the same year, a weather-beaten tricycle looms gigantically in the foreground, dwarfing a suburban ranch house farther back: it’s like the start of a movie about a kidnapping.

The people in Mr. Eggleston’s photographs could be taken for characters in a Coen brothers movie. The skinny, sharp-featured woman in the bouffant hairdo sitting on the low perimeter wall of a parking lot and the balding man with the sensuous lips at a small airport are comical and vaguely alarming figures. That scene with the middle-aged white man in a dark suit and the black man in a white jacket standing behind him, next to a white sedan on ground covered by dead leaves: Could it have been an inspiration for “Miller’s Crossing”?

But photographs like Mr. Eggleston’s are not like movie images, which come in linear sequences, establishing explanatory narratives around scenes that would be mysterious, were they viewed in isolation. There is no before and after here, so the photographs remain provocatively enigmatic, which accounts for much of their poetic resonance. His pictures tease the mind, eliciting associations and possible meanings that swirl around them like bugs around a light bulb.

The 1974 image of a big, old flatbed truck bathed in the orange light of a rising or setting sun precipitates all kinds of unanswerable questions. What’s the story? Who owns it? Why is it parked here on a field of short grass? Why was Mr. Eggleston attracted to it? Shot from a low angle, the truck appears monumental and heroic, but if it symbolizes something, it’s hard to say what. Could it represent the waning of the American Empire? Maybe it’s a kind of self-portrait of the artist as rugged individualist: Mr. Eggleston is known for pioneering the use of color in fine-art photography back when it was considered good only for commercial, popular work. Most of the photographs here suggest a defiant, personal identification with the lowly, the downtrodden and the unfashionable.

Whatever Mr. Eggleston’s relationship to motion pictures may be, it is nothing like the one that has prevailed in postmodern art, thanks largely to Cindy Sherman, whose black-and-white “Untitled Film Stills” were staged to resemble Hollywood B movies. Later came Gregory Crewdson’s lavish color photographs resembling scenes from big-budget movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” This genre reflects on popular movie culture, but it also is a form of meta-photography: photography chasing its own tail and forgetting about real life. Such conceptually driven photography lends itself to easy explication; it teaches viewers obvious lessons about the mass media and modern myths. As the exhibition’s title suggests, Mr. Eggleston is not a friend of the obvious.

This is not to claim a contrasting visual innocence for Mr. Eggleston. His elegantly formal work is evidently richly informed by photography from Atget to Arbus. But it is about experiencing the real, material world, not photography and not theoretical abstractions. He brings to light those occasional sacred moments when something you ordinarily would pass by without a thought — a children’s swing set overgrown by weeds, an abandoned gas station, a basket of fake flowers hanging on someone’s front door — suddenly takes your breath away.

“At War With the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston” continues through July 28 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710,

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 7, 2013

An art review on Friday about “At War With the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, misidentified the state where Mr. Eggleston resides. It is Tennessee (in Memphis), not Mississippi.

Text courtesy of The New York Times

The Independent on William Eggleston

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Genius in colour: Why William Eggleston is the world’s greatest photographer

The godfather of colour photography, William Eggleston, inspired a generation – from David Lynch to Juergen Teller. As the 73-year-old from Memphis is honoured by the Sony World Photography Awards, and Tate Modern open a permanent exhibition of his work, Michael Glover pays tribute to his genius plus fans, critics and fellow artists put questions to him.

Click here to view image gallery.

Turn to the end of this and you will discover, to your surprise, amusement and perhaps even mild dismay, that William Eggleston has chosen to answer a series of questions put to him by curators, photographers, critics and fans in as maddeningly deadpan and laconic a way as could ever be imagined. It is as if he has stuffed up his ears because he simply cannot tolerate the clamour. Should we blame him for this impatience with post-facto chit-chat?

Of course not. That level of dismissiveness is entirely consistent with everything we think that we know about this great photographer from the American South. J D Salinger would have done the same. This man is not in the business of talking through his work. He has been, lifelong, in the business of making it, in all its gloriously tense inscrutability. Why spoil it by reductive explanation? People often talk such nonsense anyway. You can't follow up photography with words. It doesn't make any sense. Those words in italics were from the man himself, written a while ago.

Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1939, and he grew up on the very fringe of the Mississippi Delta, where he continues to work to this day. His family had been cotton farmers, though his father was an engineer and his mother the daughter of an important local judge. He bought his first camera, a Canon Rangefinder, in 1957, and after a brief period of work in monochrome, he switched to colour in 1965.

His way of making proved controversial from the start, and what we forget is that Eggleston has had to put up with a lot of pompous and ill-informed ignorance during his long life. If his work had not been so important, that level of criticism might not have mattered so much, but the fact is that his work has been an education for all of us. The way we do photography now would not have been the same without Eggleston. Martin Parr, Nan Goldin and Jeff Wall would not have been granted the permission to be themselves without Eggleston's example. It was he and not, say, Cartier-Bresson, who was the true revolutionary, which means that he has caused a lot of trouble in his time merely by being, quite unflinchingly, who he has been.

He has had many detractors, and many of those critics spoke up when his work was shown at MoMa, New York, in 1976, in a retrospective that helped to define the nature of photography in our time. Forty years ago, his photographs were dismissed as banal, inconsequential and ramshackle in the extreme. The New York Times called it "the most hated show of the year", and Hilton Kramer, loftily countering the curator's assertion that the show was in fact perfect, wrote "perfectly bad, perhaps… perfectly boring, certainly".

What didn't they get that we, having absorbed Eggleston's influence, can now see with such clarity?

They wanted a subject, a message, a neatly-framed box into which content was poured. Eggleston didn't deal in such easy certitudes. He found his early subject-matter in the American South, his homeland, but the American South that he saw and felt on his pulses could not have been more different from the American South of Walker Evans or Bruce Davidson. There is no political perspective in Eggleston's work. This is not a photography of protest or social engagement. He does not seek out a story or a subject-matter. The subjects – a rusting street light, a heap of planks ranged against a wall, a ceiling fixture – are barely subjects at all. They are most often nothing but lone objects, often seen at an uncustomary angle to the vertical or the horizontal, so that we begin to feel vertiginous as we stare and stare at them.

And then there is his use of colour. Photography didn't use colour seriously until Eggleston came along. Colour was the prerogative of the slick advertising man, that dealer in cliché and banality. Eggleston saw a use for heightened colour; in fact, his colours can be shrill to the point of near hysteria. So he shows us objects that are both ordinary and very particularised, and then ratchets up the tension that surrounds those objects by infecting their atmosphere with shrill colours. He is besotted by the imaginative possibilities of the ordinary. He wants us to rinse our eyes until we see, without prejudice, the exquisite poignancy of the seeming banalities of the everyday.

Some of his early work reminds us of the greatness of Raymond Carver, who had a way of describing how the look of a refrigerator seems to a drunken man, that glacial, detached control of the stupefied gaze. So we cannot expect storytelling from Eggleston, but we do find a high degree of calculated painterliness, a form of abstraction, if you like – in fact, he has painted and drawn all his life.

Most of all, you must resist seeing through the photograph to the bald image of a recognisable object too quickly, too readily. Instead, begin by looking at the form and the tight framing of the piece, the angle of view, the playing off of colour against shadow – that sort of thing. Otherwise, you will exhaust the imaginative possibilities of Eggleston's work before you even begin.

'Dear Bill': photographers, curators and fans ask questions of William Eggleston...

Simon Baker, curator of photography, Tate Modern: What was the first photograph that was important to you (by you or anyone else), and why?

A picture I took of some prisoners at the state penitentiary. I'm guessing I was about 20 at the time.

Brett Rogers, director, The Photographers' Gallery: When we recently showed an Eggleston image at the Gallery, we wrote on the accompanying caption that you photograph scenes of everyday life with a 'snapshot style'. When Nan Goldin visited in January, she took exception to this, saying yours was definitely not a 'snapshot' approach. What is your view on this description of your approach?

Thank you, Nan.

Nan Goldin, photographer, New York: Remember our times in Paris? Are you still gonna marry me?

Yes, no question about it.

Michael Glover, art critic, The Independent: You seem to have both loved and loathed the American landscape. How much pain has the holding of such contradictory impulses caused you?

I don't remember loathing any of it.

Chris Dercon, director, Tate Modern: As we are about to show some of your beautiful dye-transfer prints at Tate Modern, I have been wondering how you decide on the size of the prints you make.

I have currently settled on two sizes: smaller dye transfers and large-format pigment prints.

Alice Jones, deputy arts editor, The Independent: What do you think of Instagram?

I don't know what they are.

Martin Parr, photographer, Bristol: What is the difference between your current shooting and that of the 1970s?

The subject-matter is different.

Jason Evans, photographer, Brighton: What's the difference between a photographer who makes art, and an artist who makes photographs?

Not sure there is any difference.

Nina Berman, photographer, New York: Is there a place you've never been that you would like to photograph?

I can't think offhand of any particular place.

Penny Martin, curator and editor-in-chief, The Gentlewoman: What building would you like to blow up?

I'm not in that business.

Alec Soth, photographer, Minneapolis: A few years ago Robert Frank said, "There are too many images, too many cameras now. We're all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It's just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn't an art any more. Maybe it never was." What do you think about this?

I don't disagree with any part of that statement.

Alice Hawkins, photographer, Essex: I know you were interested in Elvis, but have you met your fellow Tennessean Dolly Parton? Would you like to take her picture?

No comment.

Bobby Gillespie, singer, Primal Scream, London: Did you really give the 12-year-old Alex Chilton [the late singer with Big Star] LSD/acid at a party in Memphis in the 1960s?


Nick Hall, picture editor, The Independent Magazine: What's your favourite colour?

It used be green when I was young. Now I don't have a favourite.

Michael Benson, curator, Candlestar, London: Novelist Donna Tartt claims to recognise "a sparkle of menace" in your most powerful photographs. Do you agree?


Polly Borland, photographer, London: What are your feelings about death?

I haven't been there yet.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, photographers, London: You are on a train from Memphis to Manhattan. It's a 1,102-mile journey and the train is travelling at 80mph. What is the train-driver's name?

I call him "someone I think I trust".

Philip Hensher, novelist and art critic: What should a photographer do with symmetry?

I have no idea.

Lewis Blackwell, creative director, Getty Images, London: Did Garry Winogrand really say to you, "Bill, you can take a good picture of anything"?


Peter Dench, photographer, London: Do you fancy a pint; my round?

Why not, of course it depends on what it's a pint of…

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, featuring William Eggleston, is at Somerset House, London WC2, Friday to 12 May; 30 of his works will also be on display at Tate Modern, London SE1, from Monday

Text courtesy of The Independent

Eggleston wins Sony World Photography Award

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Sony World Photography Awards 2013: Legend William Eggleston wins prize

'Untitled. 1971-1974 fr. Los Alamos - minnows sign' by William Eggleston (Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery/ Sony World Photography Awards)

Renowned American photographer William Eggleston has scooped the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards’ Outstanding Contribution to Photography award.

Recognised as the pioneer of colour photography and the personal documentary style, William Eggleston has been producing cutting-edge work for over fifty years. Since first picking up a camera in 1957, Eggleston’s work is said to find ‘beauty in the everyday’.

His images capture the ordinary world around him, creating interest through sharp observation, dynamic composition and great wit.

'Untitled. 1968 from Los Alamos' by William Eggleston (Eggleston Artistic Trust/ Gagosian Gallery/ Sony World Photography Awards). Click here to view slideshow.

His ground-breaking 1976 show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York moved colour photography from the field of advertising to being recognised as an artform unto itself. His influence on contemporary photography and photographers is far-reaching and has inspired the likes of Martin Parr, Sofia Coppola, Andreas Gurksy and Juergen Teller.

Talking about the award, Eggleston said: "The world is in colour. To paraphrase my friend John Szarkowski, my attempt has been to see simultaneously, both the blue and the sky as one thing.”

Astrid Merget, Creative Director of the World Photography Organisation, said: "William Eggleston is without a doubt one of the great pioneers of our time. His influence on colour photography and subsequently on many of today's most revered working photographers is one to be admired, respected and awarded. We are honoured to have the opportunity to present the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award to William this year."

[Check out more pictures featured in the awards]

Eggleston received the award at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Gala Ceremony. The winners of the awards’ professional categories and the overall L’Iris d’Or/Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year were also revealed.

A selection of Eggleston’s prints loaned by The Wilson Centre for Photography will be on display at Somerset House as part of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition from April 26 to May 12.

The exhibition images were taken by Eggleston between 1965 and 1980.  The majority of the prints are from his iconic Los Alamos and Dust Bells series and the 10.D.70.V1 portfolio.

A further selection of Eggleston’s images can be seen in the 2013 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards book.

Text courtesy of Yahoo! News UK

Genius in colour: Why William Eggleston is the world’s greatest photographer, by Michael Glover

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The godfather of colour photography, William Eggleston, inspired a generation – from David Lynch to Juergen Teller. As the 73-year-old from Memphis is honoured by the Sony World Photography Awards, and Tate Modern open a permanent exhibition of his work, Michael Glover pays tribute to his genius plus fans, critics and fellow artists put questions to him.

Click here to read the full article from The Independent

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, featuring William Eggleston, is at Somerset House, London WC2, Friday to 12 May; 30 of his works will also be on display at Tate Modern, London SE1, from Monday

Forbes: Eggleston at the Met

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New Exhibit At The Met Shows How William Eggleston Made Color Photography Legit

William Eggleston didn’t invent color photography, but his landmark 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art gave it dignity, and began the four-decade process of acceptance by curators and collectors as an art form to rival oil painting. Shot in 1970, “Untitled (Memphis)” – shown above – was one of the 75 photos in the show, and also featured on the cover of the catalogue. Now it’s included in a retrospective of Eggleston’s early work at the Metropolitan.

To lend Eggleston’s work legitimacy – at a time when even black-and-white ‘art’ photography was still deemed suspect by many – the pioneering MoMA curator John Szarkowski wrote about the photos in language that would appeal to modern art aficionados. (In his phrasing, the images have “a lean, monocular intentness that fixes the subject as sharply as if it were recalled from eidetic memory.”) It was a smart move, especially given that he couldn’t appeal to ‘craft’, as photography curators reflexively did in those days: Unlike the hand-processed black-and-white prints of Edward Steichen or Ansel Adams, these pictures were made in a lab using the dye-transfer technique developed for commercial advertising. There was nothing artsy about their production. It was simply the best method for Eggleston to achieve the ultra-saturated effect he sought – and it was just what photography needed to become truly modern.

Eggleston’s ’70s sacrilege led to today’s epic c-prints by masters such asAndreas Gursky. Paradoxically photographers had to be unpainterly – appropriating industrial processes – in order for the public to see photography as the equal of painting.

Photo Caption: William Eggleston, “Untitled (Memphis)”, 1970. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012.281). Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012. © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Text courtesy of Forbes.

The Telegraph on Eggleston at the Met

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At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston

American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern color photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar.

Untitled (Mississippi) by William Eggleston, ca. 1970 At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at Metropolitan Museum

Untitled (Mississippi) by William Eggleston, ca. 1970 At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at Metropolitan Museum  Photo: Eggleston Artistic Trust/ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the work of this idiosyncratic artist, whose influences are drawn from disparate if surprisingly complementary sources—from Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson in photography to Bach and late Baroque music. Many of Eggleston’s most recognized photographs are lush studies of the social and physical landscape found in the Mississippi delta region that is his home.

The exhibition celebrates the acquisition of 36 dye transfer prints by Eggleston that dramatically expanded the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of this major American artist’s work. It added the entire suite of Eggleston’s remarkable first portfolio of color photographs, 14 Pictures (1974), 15 superb prints from his landmark book, William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), and seven other key photographs that span his career.

As much as Eggleston was influenced by various sources, he, too, has proved influential. His inventive photographs of commonplace subjects now endure as touchstones for generations of artists, musicians, and filmmakers from Nan Goldin to David Byrne, the Coen brothers, and David Lynch.

Text and image courtesy of The Telegraph.

Eggleston now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston

Opens February 26 at Metropolitan Museum February 26—July 28, 2013

At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston

Exhibition Location: The Howard Gilman Gallery, 852 The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern color photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar. At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the work of this idiosyncratic artist, whose influences are drawn from disparate if surprisingly complementary sources—from Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson in photography to Bach and late Baroque music. Many of Eggleston’s most recognized photographs are lush studies of the social and physical landscape found in the Mississippi delta region that is his home. From this base, the artist explores the awesome and, at times, the raw visual poetics of the American vernacular.

The exhibition celebrates the fall 2012 acquisition of 36 dye transfer prints by Eggleston that dramatically expanded the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of this major American artist’s work. It added the entire suite of Eggleston’s remarkable first portfolio of color photographs, 14 Pictures (1974), 15 superb prints from his landmark book, William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), and seven other key photographs that span his career.

The exhibition is made possible in part by Renée Belfer.

Eggleston wrote that he was “at war with the obvious,” a statement well-represented in works such as Untitled [Peaches!] (1970)—a roadside snapshot of rocks and half-eaten fruit thrown atop a sunlit corrugated tin roof capped with a sign announcing “PEACHES!” The exhibition features a number of the artist’s signature images, including Untitled[Greenwood, Mississippi] (1980), a study that takes full advantage of the chromatic intensity of the dye-transfer color process that, until Eggleston appropriated it in the 1960s, had been used primarily by commercial photographers for advertising product photography; and Untitled [Memphis] (1970), an iconic study of a child’s tricycle seen from below. It was the cover image of the artist’s seminal book William Eggleston’s Guide, which accompanied his landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

As much as Eggleston was influenced by various sources, he, too, has proved influential. His inventive photographs of commonplace subjects now endure as touchstones for generations of artists, musicians, and filmmakers from Nan Goldin to David Byrne, the Coen brothers, and David Lynch.

At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston is organized by Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum’s website will feature the exhibition (

Text and image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

William Eggleston: Los Alamos Revisited and Chromes now available at ROSEGALLERY

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Los Alamos Revisited

by William Eggleston


Between 1965 and 1974 William Eggleston and Walter Hopps traveled together in the US, Eggleston taking photographs, Hopps driving. During these travels the title Los Alamos was born. At the turn of the century Eggleston, Hopps,Caldecot Chubb and Winston Eggleston edited the photographs into a set of five portfolio boxes containing dyetransfer prints, which were produced in an edition of five with three sets of artist proofs. In addition to this selection, a further thirteen images were printed and released as individually available dye-transfer prints, which were referred to as “cousins” of the Los Alamos project. Hopps’ original vision was to make a vast exhibition of the project, but plans fell through and the idea was abandoned. At some point the negatives became separated, Hopps retaining roughly half of the project in Houston. Later Hopps carefully returned what was assumed to be the remainder of the negatives to Memphis and they were catalogued as Box #17. After Hopps’ death in 2005 his widow Caroline found another box of negatives that had never been accounted for. These were then catalogued as Box #83 and documented in a hand-made reference book called Lost and Found Los Alamos. In 2011, William Eggleston III (son of William) and Mark Holborn came together to review the now complete set of negatives for a final edit and sequence. They finished their sequence in Göttingen with Winston Eggleston in 2012. It is presented in its entirety in this three-volume set. An earlier edition of Los Alamos edited by Thomas Weski was published by Scalo in 2003. Weski’s original essay is included in this revised edition. Los Alamos Revisited has been drawn from the complete set of photographs, including the long lost negatives from Box #83.


by William Eggleston


William Eggleston’s standing as one of the masters of colour photography is widely acknowledged. But the gradual steps by which he transformed from an unknown into a leading artist are less well known. Steidl has undertaken to trace these steps in an ambitious series of publications. Before Color(Steidl, 2010) explored Eggleston’s revelatory early black and white images, while Chromes is an edit of more than 5,000 Kodachromes and Ektachromes taken from ten chronologically ordered binders found in a safe in the Eggleston Artistc Trust. This archive had once been used by John Szarkowski who selected the forty-eight images printed in Eggleston’s seminal book William Eggleston’s Guide, while the rest of the archive has remained almost entirely unpublished. This book presents Eggleston’s early Memphis imagery, his testing of colour and compositional strategies, and the development towards the ‘poetic snapshot’. In short, Chromes shows a master in the making.
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Text Courtesy of Steidl

William Eggleston: Daily Serving

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The Democracy of Small Things: William Eggleston at RoseGallery

by Amelia Sechman
William Eggleston, Untitled (from Los Alamos, 1965-68 and 1972-74)

I will never forget the first time I saw a photograph by William Eggleston. It was the Los Alamosexhibition at the SFMoMA; I was sixteen, a time when the only thing I could do to mask the uncertainty I felt about the world was with an all too common teenage bravado. But as I walked through the rooms, every ounce of the know-it-all in me fell away; I had never seen the world look the way it did in those photographs. The curiosity, devotion, and nonchalance all shone through the unworldly vibrancy of each dye-transfer print. It feels trite to say that he taught me how to see, but it also seems like an understatement. Now as a somewhat less uncertain adult, I was able to relive with the same sense of awe I felt as a teenager while viewing William Eggleston: New Dyes, the current exhibition atRoseGallery in Los Angeles.

Untitled, 1970-1973; from William Eggleston, Chromes; published by Steidl in 2011. Images courtesy of the Eggleston Artistic Trust and ROSEGALLERY

Selected from the same group of Kodachrome slides from which John Szarkowski curated Eggleston’s first show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1976, the images were printed by Guy Stricherz and Irene Mali, two of the last practitioners of the dye-transfer process, and it makes all the difference. There is a time and place for just about any medium to be used, but art really stands the test of time when the artist uses the most appropriate materials for each specific project. Eggleston, master of color and composition, rightfully began printing his 35mm slides with the dye-transfer process, which requires using three printing layers, (one for each subtractive color), to produce an unparalleled spectrally pure image.

Untitled, 1970-1973; from William Eggleston, Chromes; published by Steidl in 2011. Images courtesy of the Eggleston Artistic Trust and ROSEGALLERY

The resulting photographs glow with saturation, then are unexpectedly combined with subjected matter so seemingly mundane. That is Eggleston’s gift. He takes everyday minutia and elevates it to such levels of grandeur one could hardly imagine the images were taken in our backyards, on our streets and in our living rooms; he reminds us that the world surrounding us is full of wonder.

Untitled, 1970-1973; from William Eggleston, Chromes; published by Steidl in 2011. Images courtesy of the Eggleston Artistic Trust and ROSEGALLERY

In the introduction to Eggleston’s The Democratic Forest, Eudora Welty wrote that “he sets forth what makes up our ordinary world. What is there, however strange, can be accepted without question; familiarity will be what overwhelms us.” It is that unrelenting familiarity that draws you into the image and makes you want to look as deeply as Eggleston looks at the world. And, as if to reward the viewer for their hard work, he subtly hides small secrets in the edges and backgrounds; on signs and buildings and in the relationships between objects.

Untitled, 1970-1973; from William Eggleston, Chromes; published by Steidl in 2011. Images courtesy of the Eggleston Artistic Trust and ROSEGALLERY

Before visiting the gallery, I wondered why these images were not chosen for the original show in the 1970s; are they the rejects? The answer to that is a resounding no. Each image holds its own unique view into the world just as the images we are familiar with. The images have the quiet contemplation of a person walking around with a camera and documenting the tiny dramas and narratives fill the frames and our lives. They are reminders that amidst every other chaotic thing, there is beauty.

Text courtesy of Daily Serving

Edward Goldman Art Talk on KCRW

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Looking Straight at the President, the War and Ourselves

TUE OCT 23, 2012
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With presidential debates dominating the national conversation and the subjects of war and terror front and center, I was looking for someplace that could give me a sense of peace and beauty. The Huntington Library, in San Marino, with its Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, provided exactly the kind of respite that I needed. After a leisurely stroll through its magnificent grounds, I felt sufficiently fortified to dive into the difficult subject of the new museum exhibition, "A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning and Memory in the American Civil War."

Drawn from the museum's extensive collections, this exhibition concentrates on rare and little known photographs documenting the Civil War, which cost the nation the lives of three quarters of a million people. What I found particularly moving was that, instead of delivering an academic lecture, the exhibition gave me an immediate emotional connection with one of the most painful chapters in American history.

(L) Abraham Lincoln, letter to Ulysses S. Grant, April 30, 1864 Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

(R) Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), Last Portrait of Abraham Lincoln, February 5, 1865 Gelatin silver print

Among the various portraits of President Lincoln on display, there is one I had never seen before. It was taken just two months before his assassination and he looks particularly thoughtful, unguarded, and very tired. In an accompanying exhibition, "A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War," I was profoundly moved by the modest appearance of a single-page letter from Lincoln to General Grant and written by the president's own hand.

(L) Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), Lewis Payne, a Lincoln Conspirator, under arrest aboard the U.S.S. Montauk, April 27, 1865 Page from the James E. Taylor scrapbook; albumen print Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

(R) Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), Hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators at the Old Arsenal, Washington, DC, July 7, 1865 Page from the James E. Taylor Scrapbook; albumen prints

And then was a photograph of an attractive young man, in a hat and trench coat, who happens to be one of the accomplices in the assassination of the president. Nearby, there are two photographs of him and his co-conspirators. In the first, they are standing on the gallows with nooses around their necks, waiting for execution; in the second, their bodies sway in the wind.

Isaac Bonsall (1833-1909), Group of Union Military and Civilian Men near Chattanooga, Tennessee ca. 1863-1864 Albumen print. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Walking through, one moment you are totally overwhelmed by the horror of what you are watching, the next you see a quiet photo of a Group of Union Military and Civilian Men near Chattanooga, Tennessee (ca. 1863-64) posing proudly and calmly in front of the camera. One cannot help but think of how many of them are lying dead here, in another photograph, which captures the gruesome aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. There is no way to describe this image with mere words; one simply must see it.

Timothy H. O'Sullivan (ca. 1840-1882), photographer; printed by Alexander Gardner, A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, July 4, 1863 Albumen print. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

In search of much-needed solace, I travelled across town to see two exhibitions of the remarkable photographer William Eggleston. I like to describe him as the Prince of Melancholy who "has produced a veritable encyclopedia of everyday life in his native Memphis, New Orleans and the Mississippi River Delta." Last year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented aretrospective of his half-century career. Today, two Los Angeles galleries – Rose Gallery in Santa Monica and Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills – pay tribute to this quintessential southern gentleman and to the beauty of the trivial moments captured by his camera.

William Eggleston, Untitled, 1970-1973, Dye transfer print Image courtesy of Rose Gallery

Until William Eggleston started to produce his signature dye transfer images, color photography was traditionally considered to be exclusively a commercial phenomenon. Most of his photographs, even those saturated with color, look slightly faded, which gives them a particularly nostalgic, wistful mood.

Collectively, these images provide the most profound, and the most casual, portrait of small town America. If you are familiar with the writing of Eudora Welty and William Faulkner then these photographs will undoubtedly make a strong impression on you. Whether a glimpse of a car passing through a flooded alley or a solitary crossing guard at her post, nothing, absolutely nothing happens in these photos. But if you take a deep breath and allow yourself the luxury of slowing down, then Eggleston's photos will start to whisper, and maybe even sing to you their irresistible songs.

"A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning, and Memory in the American Civil War," at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens runs through January 14, 2013.

"A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War," at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens runs through January 7, 2013.

"William Eggleston: New Dyes," at Rose Gallery runs through November 24, 2012.

"William Eggleston: Los Alamos," at Gagosian Gallery runs through November 10, 2012.

Banner image: (L) William Eggleston, Untitled, 1970-1973, Dye transfer print. Image courtesy of Rose Gallery (R) William Eggleston, Untitled, 1970-1973, Dye transfer print. Image courtesy of Rose Gallery

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Artdaily—Eggleston at ROSEGALLERY

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International Debut of New Dye Transfer Prints by William Eggleston on View at ROSEGALLERY

Untitled, 1970-1973; from William Eggleston, Chromes; published by Steidl in 2011, Image courtesy The Eggleston Artistic Trust and ROSEGALLERY.

SANTA MONICA, CA.- ROSEGALLERY announced the international debut of new dye transfer prints by William Eggleston. Images from New Dyes are on view from 13 October – 24 November, 2012. William Eggleston’s vision is deceptively casual and sometimes brutally direct. The results are often unsettling. Whether he is making portraits, landscapes, interiors, still-life’s or street scenes, he works with unflinching, unsentimental candor. By marrying this sensibility with sophisticated color, Eggleston continuously rediscovers the mundane world. His first solo exhibition, simply titled Color Photographs opened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York on May 25th, 1976. Comprised of dye transfer prints of the artist’s early color work, produced between 1969 and 1971, it was regarded as one of the most influential photography shows of its time. The corresponding catalogue, William Eggleston’s Guide, was the museum’s very first publication of color photographs and together, exhibition and book represented a turning point in the history of photography; the point where color photography gained recognition as a medium of artistic expression. His radical departure from conventional composition combined with the pioneering use of the dye transfer print process became the hallmark of Eggleston’s career. His reliance on dyes as a primary medium was an unprecedented aesthetic and conceptual choice that made a deep impact in the world of photograph. Originally developed for advertising, and advertising copy, the dye transfer printing method carried commercial and consumer connotations and had never before been used by an artist. By exaggerating particular hues and making use of the broadest color and tonal ranges, Eggleston added a psychological component, even an hallucinatory atmosphere to his pictures of the everyday. The arresting saturated palette, richness and unmatched depth of Eggleston’s prints are paralleled with a subtle emotional effect. This Fall, ROSEGALLERY presents the very latest dyes. Culled from the same group of 5000 Kodachrome slides from which John Szarkowski curated Eggleston’s first exhibition, New Dyes represent the best of the artist’s unseen transparencies shot between 1969 and 1974. Printed by Guy Stricherz and Irene Mali, two of the last practitioners of the dye transfer craft, the prints are classic Eggleston – profound in their rebellious content and distinguished by their peerless beauty. A comprehensive exhibition of Eggleston’s NEW DYES will be held at the TATE Modern London, 2013 and will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee and was raised in Sumner, Mississippi, on his family’s plantation. His work has been exhibited in museums worldwide, and has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among others. Monographs, and limited edition books featuring his work are numerous. Most notable among them are William Eggleston’s Guide (with forward by John Sarkowski), 1976; Ancient & Modern, 1992; Faulkner’s Mississippi, 1990; 2 ¼, 1999; Los Alamos (with introduction by Walter Hopps), 2003; William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs & Video 1961-2008, 2008. A new three-volume set, Los Alamos Revisited, is published by Steidl this September.

Text courtesy of artdaily.

Financial Times Magazine: William Eggleston

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September 14, 2012 9:24 pm

William Eggleston: American epic

By Mark Holborn

After 35 years since William Eggleston’s colour works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Mark Holborn charts the full extent of the photographer’s achievement.
Untitled, 1971-1974

Nearly 25 years ago I was travelling through Hale County, Alabama, with my friend the artist William Christenberry. It was where he’d grown up and he knew each family and every mile of it. Here in 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans produced Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a portrait of white sharecroppers written in Agee’s almost Biblical prose accompanied by Evans’s black and white photographs. The book, though controversial in Hale County, was a primary source for Christenberry’s uncovering of his roots, just as Evans’s formal and often directly frontal photography of the south – its storefronts, shacks, churches and gas stations – shaped Christenberry’s vision through the viewfinder of his large camera. I even found one of Evans’s discarded boxes of early Polaroid film in a crumbling building that had belonged to a palm reader. In this part of the country, the kudzu weed was so virulent that abandoned cars were discovered in the undergrowth decades later. It all looked like a Walker Evans photograph, except the earth was red. I saw Christenberry in Washington, his home town, last spring. He confessed to a profound depression. The south that had nourished him had altogether vanished.

To read the full article, click here.
Text and Image courtesy of the Financial Times Magazine

William Eggleston — Before Color

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Nederlands Fotomuseum Highlights Famous Photographer William Eggleston's Earliest Work

ROTTERDAM.- The American photographer William Eggleston (1939) is known as one of the first major pioneers of artistic colour photography. His book William Eggleston's Guide was one of the most influential photography books of the 20th century and still inspires many today. Eggleston's black-and-white photographs are less well-known. In Before Color, the Nederlands Fotomuseum highlights this famous photographer's earliest work, which was only recently discovered. The photographs show that Eggleston found his own style early on. Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston used a 35mm camera and fast black-and-white film to photograph the American way of life in the early 1960s. We see his own surroundings: suburban Memphis, with its diners, car parks and supermarkets, as well as the houses and domestic interiors of the people who lived there. Before Color by William Eggleston is on display from 16 June until 26 August.

Black-and-white snapshots

When Eggleston started taking photographs in the early 1960s, he was particularly inspired by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and his book The Decisive Moment from 1952. Contrary to the big names in American photography at the time – who were preoccupied with the stunning landscape, like Ansel Adams -Cartier-Bresson took snapshots of everyday life. Eggleston found this approach very appealing. Using a 35mm camera and fast black-and-white film he began photographing his own surroundings. These were predominantly shaped by suburban Memphis, with its diners, car parks and supermarkets, but he also focused on the houses and domestic interiors of the people who lived there.

Breaking a tradition

At the same time Eggleston experimented with colour photography. Together with Joel Meyerowitz, Joel Sternfeld and others, he broke the long tradition of black-and-white photography by working in colour and focusing on subjects from daily life. In 1972 he completed an extensive series of 2,200 photographs entitled Los Alamos, which provided a unique picture of life in America in the '60s and early '70s. He discovered the deep and saturated colours of the so-called dye-transfer printing technique, originally a commercial application that he perfected and that would become his international trademark. His first solo exhibition in 1976 was also the first exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art devoted to colour photography. The exhibition was accompanied by what would become the acclaimed and influential book William Eggleston's Guide.

“As these rediscovered prints reveal, the man who made colour photography into an artform worked brilliantly in monochrome – and his eye for unsettling detail is every bit as sharp” – Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian

Before color

Eggleston would later abandon black-and-white film altogether and his earliest work was forgotten. So it was a surprise when a box of his black-and-white photographs was recently found in the archives of the William Eggleston Artistic Trust in Memphis. The photographs were exhibited for the first time in 2010 at the Cheim & Read Gallery in New York and published in the book Before Color (Steidl, 2010). Before Color exhibition This is the first time that Before Color has been exhibited in the Netherlands and includes nearly 40 photographs from William Eggleston's early career. The images show that Eggleston found his personal style and photographic motifs early on and provide a wonderful picture of the American way of life in suburban Memphis in the 1960s. The exhibition was realised in cooperation with Peder Lund, Oslo.

Image and text courtesy of artdaily