Eggleston was still an unknown photographer from the deep South, when John Szarkowski, the photography curator of the MOMA in New York, offered him a solo exhibition in 1976 on the basis of a portfolio of hundreds of colour slides that were taken between 1969 and 1971. In the exhibition catalogue, " William Eggleston's Guide ", Szarkowski referred to Eggleston's pictures as " perfect ", to which the highly offended New York
Times art critic Hilton Kramer responded, " Perfect ? Perfectly banal, perhaps. Perfectly boring, certainly"
Despite the great controversy, William Eggleston built up a secure reputation as the " Father of Colour Photography ". Although his first pictures show many affinities with the typical colour images of the sixties (abstract expressionist painting, amateur snapshots, postcards and popular magazines), Eggleston nontheless succeeded in obtaining a proper place in the artistic tradition of photography , thanks to his inventiveness, his mastery of the dye transfer technique and his subtle game with colour, form and content.
The work of William Eggleston mainly consists of large, epic series that reveal their coherence only after the facts. The " Los Alamos Project " comprises 2000 pictures of his wanderings in Memphis, Mississippi, New Orleans, South-California and Las Vegas, between 1972 and 1975.
In the " Democratic Forest " Eggleston brings together a number of photographs from the eighties.
They are " democratically " photographed, in the sense that every element of the image is treated with the same respect. In the " Louisiana Project ", he explores the Southern state and combines classical images of deserted plantation houses with images of piles of garbage on the outskirts of New Orleans.
The photographs of William Eggleston are not valuable as social documents : they seem resistent to any universal or exemplary meaning and appear as hermetic as a family album.
Eggleston simply describes life, out of a private view, but with clarity, fullness, and elegance.
William Eggleston's reputation is also linked to a number of very diverse projects : a portfolio on Elvis Presley's Graceland (1984) ; a book with landscape pictures taken on the eve of the election of President Jimmy Carter (1976) ; a commission from AT&T to photograph the landscape, the wild life and vegetation in the Gulf States ; a research assignment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study the possibilities of the colour video, travelogues on Kenia, Berlin, Austria, South-Afrika, England and Egypt.
After a sabbatical of 10 years, in which he painted, studied the music of Bach and crafted some high quality loudspeakers, Eggleston has recently taken up photography again. In the gallery, you can see a selection of 28 recent photographs that were taken in Memphis, Kentucky, California, Arizona, Mexico and Berlin.
The pictures are reproduced as iris-prints, a recently developped digital printing technique.
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