24
Jul
13

Exhibition: ‘At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 28th July 2013

 

Eggleston photographs the obvious with such candour and vigour that simple things become something more: almost interior statements of his mind evidenced in the physicality of the photograph. He may be at war with the obvious, but these are complex thoughts told in simple, eloquent ways. They are only obvious if you know how to look for them.

The peaches thrown on the roof, the rusted speculum of ‘Wonder Bread’, the turned up shoes; the use of foreshortening, the low positioning of the camera (looking up or across at ground level), the formalism of colour, the light.

Eggleston understands the essence of each scene he photographs perfectly. The child’s eye-level view of the tricycle emphasising its gigantism will always be a favourite, as will the abstract expressionist colour field of Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi) (1980, below). As with any virtuoso artist, Eggleston controls the tonality and mood of compositions beautifully: a case in point is Untitled (Memphis) (c. 1972, below) which will always remind me of a piece of Mozart piano music. It took me a while when I was growing up to like Mozart (as a concert pianist I loved the romantics such as Chopin and Debussy), but when you finally understand all the nuances contained in his music, when you finally grow to love him, you are just so full of admiration for his achievement.

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

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS AN ART PHOTOGRAPH OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1971
Dye-transfer print
31.1 x 47.7 cm (12 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Mississippi)' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Mississippi)
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
25.1 x 38.3 cm (9 7/8 x 15 1/16 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' (the artist's uncle, Adyn Schuyler Senior, with assistant Jasper Staples, in Cassidy Bayou, Sumner, Mississippi) 1969-70

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in Background)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
36.8 x 55.5 cm (14 1/2 x 21 7/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Louisiana)' 1980 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Louisiana)
1980 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
30.2 x 45.3 cm (11 7/8 x 17 13/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 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 (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

 

 

“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.

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.

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1970
Dye-transfer print
30.7 x 43.8 cm (12 1/16 x 17 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5 cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1983
Dye-transfer print
37 x 56 cm (14 9/16 x 22 1/16 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1972 (printed 1986)

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
c. 1972 (printed 1986)
Dye-transfer print
28.8 x 43.4 cm (11 5/16 x 17 1/16 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1984

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled
1984
Dye-transfer print
55.9 x 37.1 cm (22 x 14 5/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1970 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1970 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55 x 37.1 cm (21 5/8 x 14 5/8 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 (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1972

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1972
Dye-transfer print
46 x 31 cm (18 1/8 x 12 3/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)' c. 1970 (printed 2002)

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)
c. 1970 (printed 2002)
Dye-transfer print
60.3 x 48.9 cm (23 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1971 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55.4 x 36.8 cm (21 13/16 x 14 1/2 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012.283)
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

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T: 212-535-7710

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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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