04
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: November 7th 2008 – January 25th 2009

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c.1971-73

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c.1971 – 1973
from Troubled Waters 1980
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1973

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1973
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America, born July 27, 1939) 'Memphis' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Memphis
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

One of the most influential photographers of the last half-century, William Eggleston has defined the history of colour photography. This exhibition is the artist’s first retrospective in the United States and includes both his colour and black-and-white photographs as well as Stranded in Canton, the artist’s video work from the early 1970s.

William Eggleston’s great achievement in photography can be described in a straightforward way: he captures everyday moments and transforms them into indelible images. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 presents a comprehensive selection from nearly fifty years of image-making.

Born in 1939 in Sumner, Mississippi, a small town in the Delta region, Eggleston showed an early interest in cameras and audio technology. While studying at various colleges in the South, he purchased his first camera and came across a copy of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book The Decisive Moment (1952). In the early 1960s, Eggleston married and moved to Memphis, where he has lived ever since. He first worked in black-and-white, but by the end of the decade began photographing primarily in colour. Internationally acclaimed and widely traveled, Eggleston has spent the past four decades photographing all around the world, conveying intuitive responses to fleeting configurations of cultural signs and moods as specific expressions of local colour. Psychologically complex and casually refined, bordering on kitsch and never conventionally beautiful, these photographs speak principally to the expanse of Eggleston’s imagination and have had a pervasive influence on all aspects of visual culture. By not censoring, rarely editing, and always photographing, Eggleston convinces us of the idea of the democratic camera.

This exhibition was organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in association with Haus der Kunst, Munich.

Text from the Whitney Museum of American Art website

.
Many thankx to the Whitney Museum of American Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

William Eggleston video

“This candid interview with photographer William Eggleston was conducted by film director Michael Almereyda on the occasion of the opening of Eggleston’s retrospective William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A key figure in American photography, Eggleston is credited almost single-handedly with ushering in the era of colour photography. Eggleston discusses his shift from black and white to colour photography in this video as, “it never was a conscious thing. I had wanted to see a lot of things in colour because the world is in colour”. Also included in this video are Eggleston’s remarks about his personal relationships with the subjects of many of his photographs.”

 

 

 

Stranded in Canton

In 1973, photographer William Eggleston picked up a Sony PortaPak and took to documenting the soul of Memphis and New Orleans.

“These were the Merry Prankster and “Easy Rider” years, when road trips and craziness were cool, and Mr. Eggleston set out on some hard-drinking picture-taking excursions. He also embarked on repeated shorter expeditions closer to home in the form of epic bar crawls, which resulted in the legendary video “Stranded in Canton.”

Originally existing as countless hours of unedited film and recently pared down by the filmmaker Robert Gordon to a manageable 76 minutes, it was shot in various places in 1973 and 1974. (The new version is in the retrospective.) Mr. Eggleston would show up with friends at favourite bars, turn on his Sony Portapak, push the camera into people’s faces and encourage them to carry on.

And they did. Apart from brief shots of his children and documentary-style filming of musicians, the result is like some extreme form of reality television. Your first thought is: Why do people let themselves be seen like this? Do they know what they look like? You wonder if Mr. Eggleston is deliberately shaping some tragicomic Lower Depths drama or just doing his customary shoot-what’s-there thing, the what’s-there in this case being chemical lunacy. For all the film’s fringy charge there’s something truly creepy and deadly going on, as there is in much of Mr. Eggleston’s art. You might label it Southern Gothic; but whatever it is, it surfaces when a lot of his work is brought together.”

Holland Cotter. “Old South Meets New, in Living Color,” on The New York Times website Nov 6, 2008

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1976

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1976
From Election Eve
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1980

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1980
Dye-transfer print
29.6 x 45.5 cm (11 5/8 x 17 15/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd from 'Los Alamos' 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
Dye-transfer print
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c. 1975 (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee) c. 1975

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee)
c. 1975
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America,born July 27, 1939) 'Huntsville, Alabama' c. 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Huntsville, Alabama
1971
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled, 1965' (Memphis Tennessee)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis Tennessee)
1965
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1969-71

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1969-71
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1983
From a series of photographs taken at Graceland
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600

Opening hours:
Mondays: 10.30 am – 6 pm
Tuesdays: Closed
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays: 10.30 am – 6 pm
Friday and Saturdays: 10.30 am – 10 pm

Whitney Museum of American Art website

William Eggleston exhibition web page

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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