Posts Tagged ‘Los Alamos

17
Aug
12

Exhibition: ‘Before Color: William Eggleston’ at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam

Exhibition dates: 16th June – 26th August 2012

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1960
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York and Peder Lund, Oslo
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Vegard Kleven, Oslo

 

 

“As these rediscovered prints reveal, the man who made colour photography into an artform worked brilliantly in monochrome – and his eye for unsettling detail is every bit as sharp”

.
Sean O’Hagan

 

 

These are magnificent, intelligent photographs. They are works from the master that show that Eggleston found his own style early on. His understanding of the “quietness” of space and form within the picture plane is already fully developed and his aesthetic decision to use grainy, black and white high speed film just adds to the stillness and eeriness of the photographs. His signature style, his unique messianic voice, really shines through in these recently discovered images which could be seen to be BC – before the beginning of colour (photography) as eulogised by the museum establishment.

Highlights in these photographs include:

  • The pose of the women caught mid-stride, about to put the telephone back in its cradle
  • The man and the woman frozen mid-conversation in a minimal hotel lobby(?) with the shroud of a dark man on the plaque behind
  • The barren hotel room with old air conditioner, vinyl chair, floral bedspread and newspapers strewn over the floor (remeniscent of the spaces of so many of his later colour photographs)
  • And my favourite, Untitled (1960, below), the bulk of the heavy car looming out of the murk at the bottom of the picture frame, the intransigent windscreen wipers, the rain and the blurred traffic moving behind. You can almost touch and taste the atmosphere of this moment, in this day, of that year…

.
The wondrous thing is that Eggleston’s voice transfers beautifully through into the saturation of his later colour dye-transfer prints. His pared down vision of life and world become unmistakably his own in the colour photographs. Unlike the Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama, whose panache in his black and white photographs is matched only by the shallowness of his colour work, here Eggleston lays the ground work for the rest of his monumental career.

Great to see these early photographs. I’m so glad they found them!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Nederlands Fotomuseum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs to view a larger version of the image.

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1960
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York and Peder Lund, Oslo
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1966

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1966
Private collection, Oslo. Courtesy Peder Lund
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

The American photographer William Eggleston (1939) is known as one of the first major pioneers of artistic colour photography. His book William Eggleston’s Guide was one of the most influential photography books of the 20th century and still inspires many today. Eggleston’s black-and-white photographs are less well-known. In Before Color, the Nederlands Fotomuseum highlights this famous photographer’s earliest work, which was only recently discovered. The photographs show that Eggleston found his own style early on. Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston used a 35mm camera and fast black-and-white film to photograph the American way of life in the early 1960s. We see his own surroundings: suburban Memphis, with its diners, car parks and supermarkets, as well as the houses and domestic interiors of the people who lived there. Before Color by William Eggleston will be on display from 16 June until 26 August.

 

Black-and-white snapshots

When Eggleston started taking photographs in the early 1960s, he was particularly inspired by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and his book The Decisive Moment from 1952. Contrary to the big names in American photography at the time – who were preoccupied with the stunning landscape, like Ansel Adams – Cartier-Bresson took snapshots of everyday life. Eggleston found this approach very appealing. Using a 35mm camera and fast black-and-white film he began photographing his own surroundings. These were predominantly shaped by suburban Memphis, with its diners, car parks and supermarkets, but he also focused on the houses and domestic interiors of the people who lived there.

 

Breaking a tradition

At the same time Eggleston experimented with colour photography. Together with Joel Meyerowitz, Joel Sternfeld and others, he broke the long tradition of black-and-white photography by working in colour and focusing on subjects from daily life. In 1972 he completed an extensive series of 2,200 photographs entitled Los Alamos, which provided a unique picture of life in America in the ’60s and early ’70s. He discovered the deep and saturated colours of the so-called dye-transfer printing technique, originally a commercial application that he perfected and that would become his international trademark. His first solo exhibition in 1976 was also the first exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art devoted to colour photography. The exhibition was accompanied by what would become the acclaimed and influential book William Eggleston’s Guide.

 

Before color

Eggleston would later abandon black-and-white film altogether and his earliest work was forgotten. So it was a surprise when a box of his black-and-white photographs was recently found in the archives of the William Eggleston Artistic Trust in Memphis. The photographs were exhibited for the first time in 2010 at the Cheim & Read Gallery in New York and published in the book Before Color (Steidl, 2010).

 

Before Color exhibition

This is the first time that Before Color has been exhibited in the Netherlands and includes nearly 40 photographs from William Eggleston’s early career. The images show that Eggleston found his personal style and photographic motifs early on and provide a wonderful picture of the American way.

Press release from the Nederlands Fotomuseum website

 

William Eggelston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1960
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York and Peder Lund, Oslo
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York and Peder Lund, Oslo
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York and Peder Lund, Oslo
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1960
Private collection, Oslo. Courtesy Peder Lund
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1960

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1960
Private collection, Oslo. Courtesy Peder Lund
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Photo Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

Nederlands Fotomuseum
Wilhelminakade 332
3072 AR Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm

Nederlands Fotomuseum website

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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 50.6cm)
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

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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 50.8cm)
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 50.8cm)
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. 1971-1973
from Troubled Waters, 1980
Dye transfer print
15 7/8 x 19 15/16 in (40.3 x 50.6cm)
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 3/4 inches (30.5 x 45.1cm)
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 inches (30.5 x 45.1cm)
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 45.1cm)
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 30.5cm)
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 30.5cm)
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. 1969-1971
from William Eggleston’s Guide, 1976
Dye transfer print
24 x 20 in (61 x 50.8cm)
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. 1969-1970
from William Eggleston’s Guide 1976
Dye transfer print
13 3/8 x 8 11/16 in (34 x 22cm)
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 40.3cm)
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 3/4 x 12 in (45.1 x 30.5cm)
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 30.5cm)
Private collection
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

 

 

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Friday – Monday 11am – 5pm
Thursday 11am – 8pm
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

The Art Institute of Chicago website

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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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor 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.

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