william eggleston

I’m a huge fan of William Eggleston. His images have this sort of poetic imperfection about them, the way the objects are positioned slightly off beat, curious, beautiful, fragile. It took ages for Eggleston to get the recognition he deserved (or even commercial success).


William Eggleston (born July 27, 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American photographer. He is widely credited with securing recognition for color photography as a legitimate artistic medium to display in art galleries.

Egglestons father was an engineer who had failed as a cotton farmer, and his mother was the daughter of a prominent local judge. As a boy, Eggleston was introverted; he enjoyed playing the piano, drawing, and working with electronics. From an early age, he was also drawn to visual media, and reportedly enjoyed buying postcards and cutting out pictures from magazines. As a child, Eggleston was also interested in audio technology.

Eggleston’s early photographic efforts were inspired by the work of Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank, and by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’.
Eggleston began experimenting with color in 1965 and 1966; color transparency film became his dominant medium in the later sixties.

Eggleston’s development as a photographer seems to have taken place in relative isolation from other artists. In an interview, John Szarkowski of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) describes his first, 1969 encounter with the young Eggleston as being “absolutely out of the blue”. After reviewing Eggleston’s work (which he recalled as a suitcase full of “drugstore” color prints) Szarkowski prevailed upon the Photography Committee of MOMA to buy one of Eggleston’s photographs.

In 1970, Eggleston’s friend William Christenberry introduced him to Walter Hopps, director of Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery. Hopps later reported being “stunned” by Eggleston’s work: “I had never seen anything like it.”

Eggleston’s mature work is characterized by its ordinary subject-matter. As Eudora Welty noted in her introduction to The Democratic Forest, an Eggleston photograph might include “old tyres, Dr Pepper machines, discarded air-conditioners, vending machines, empty and dirty Coca-Cola bottles, torn posters, power poles and power wires, street barricades, one-way signs, detour signs, No Parking signs, parking meters and palm trees crowding the same curb.”

William Eggleston in the real world. 2005 documentary by Michael Almereyda

God Damn That’s A Good Looking Blue”: Winston Eggleston on William Eggleston, from 2008. Film and interview directed by: Douglas Sloan Courtesy.

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