18
May
10

Exhibition: ‘William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008’ at The Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 27th February – 23rd May 2010

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis, Tennessee)' 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis, Tennessee)
1971
from 14 Pictures, 1974
Dye transfer print
15 7/8 x 19 15/16 in (40.3 x 50.6 cm)
Collection of Adam Bartos
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

THE classic William Eggleston, the one and only. Feel the heat of sun on body. Look at the construction of the image plane, all angles and fractures. The slight movement of the woman’s hand as she sits on a cracked yellow wall. The distance between her body and the metal pole with wrapped chain and padlock, that ice/fire tension as Minor White would say. Man with gun vs melancholy monochromatic self portrait, the reverie of the lone thinker. Colour and light as emotional sounding board, “colour as a means of discovery and expression, and as a way to highlight aspects of life hidden in plain sight.” This is what Eggleston points his democratic camera at – life hidden in plain sight, revealed in all its intricacies, in all its mundanity and glory.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Chai Lee and the Art Institute of Chicago for allowing to me reproduce the photographs in this posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1970
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
16 x 20 in (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Purchased with funds from the Photography Committee
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1975

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1975
Dye transfer print
16 x 20 in (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Cheim & Read, New York
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1971-73

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1971-73
from Troubled Waters, 1980
Dye transfer print
15 7/8 x 19 15/16 in (40.3 x 50.6 cm)
Collection Marcia Dunn and Jonathan Sobel
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
12 x 17 ¾ inches (30.5 x 45.1 cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
12 x 17 ¾ inches (30.5 x 45.1 cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
12 x 17 3/4 in (30.5 x 45.1 cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

 

The unconventional beauty and artistry of works by photographer William Eggleston will be showcased in a major exhibition opening at the Art Institute of Chicago this winter. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 – on view from February 27 through May 23, 2010, in the Modern Wing’s Abbott Galleries (G182, G184) and Carolyn S. and Matthew Bucksbaum Gallery (G188) – is the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the Memphis-based contemporary photographer. The exhibition brings together more than 150 extraordinary images of familiar, everyday subjects with lesser-known, early black-and-white prints and provocative video recordings, all produced over a five-decade period.

Born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised on his family’s cotton plantation in Mississippi, William Eggleston held a casual interest in photography until 1959, when he came across photo books by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans. Among his earliest pictures, made during stints at universities in Tennessee and Mississippi, were black-and-white scenes found in his native South, as well as portraits of friends and family members.

By the 1960s and early 1970s he had begun experimenting with colour film, and he eventually produced rich, vivid prints through the dye transfer process – prints that are created through the alignment of three separate matrices (cyan, magenta, and yellow) generated from three separate negatives (red, green, and blue filters). The resulting prints are known for the vividness and permanence of their colours. Hence, Eggleston is often credited for single-handedly ushering in the era of colour art photography.

Eager to show his work to a broader audience, Eggleston traveled to New York with a suitcase of slides and prints to meet with Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curator John Szarkowski. This visit eventually yielded a controversial but revolutionary exhibition in 1976 – MoMA’s first solo show to feature colour photographs – and a classic accompanying book, William Eggleston’s Guide. At this point in his career, Eggleston had already distinguished himself by treating colour as a means of discovery and expression, and as a way to highlight aspects of life hidden in plain sight.

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 demonstrates Eggleston’s “democratic” approach to his photographic subjects in both colour and black-and-white. Everything that happens in front of the camera is worthy of becoming a picture for the artist – no matter how seemingly circumstantial or trivial. Eggleston finds his motifs in everyday life, resulting in telling portrayals of American culture. His iconic images such as Elvis’s Graceland, a supermarket clerk corralling grocery carts in the afternoon sunlight, and a freezer stuffed with food proves that the photographer points his “democratic camera” at everything. Eggleston’s quiet, thoughtful pictures have profoundly impacted subsequent generations of photographers, filmmakers, and scholars.

The exhibition also includes Eggleston’s cult video work, Stranded in Canton. In the 1960s, Eggleston used film to document Fred McDowell, a well-known Delta blues musician, but ultimately abandoned the film project. Eggleston later acquired a video camera and began using video to shoot in bars and in people’s homes; sometimes he shot monologues friends delivered for his video camera, most often at night. The result, Stranded in Canton, recently restored and re-edited, is a portrait of a woozy subculture that adds dimension and texture to the world of Eggleston’s colour photographs.

Internationally acclaimed, Eggleston has spent the past four decades photographing around the world, responding intuitively to fleeting configurations of cultural signs and specific expressions of local colour. By not censoring, rarely editing, and always photographing even the seemingly banal, Eggleston convinces us completely of the idea of the democratic camera.

Press release from the Art Institute of Chicago website [Online] Cited 15/05/2010 no longer available online

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
17 3/4 x 12 in. (45.1 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection.
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled (Memphis Tennessee)' 1965

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis Tennessee)
1965
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
17 ¾ x 12 inches (45.1 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection.
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Memphis
c. 1969-71
from William Eggleston’s Guide, 1976
Dye transfer print
24 x 20 in (61 x 50.8 cm)
Collection of John Cheim
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Morton, Mississippi' c. 1969-70

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Morton, Mississippi
c. 1969-70
from William Eggleston’s Guide 1976
Dye transfer print
13 3/8 x 8 11/16 in (34 x 22 cm)
Cheim & Read, New York
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Huntsville, Alabama' 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Huntsville, Alabama
1971
from William Eggleston’s Guide 1976
Dye transfer print
20 x 15 7/8 in (50.8 x 40.3 cm.)
University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses, Oxford
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
17 ¾ x 12 in (45.1 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'En Route to New Orleans' 1971-1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
En Route to New Orleans
1971-1974
from Los Alamos, 1965-1974 (published 2003)
Dye transfer print
17 3/4 x 12 in. (45.1 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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