William Eggleston

William Eggleston captures ordinary everyday urban American life (portraits, indoor and outdoor scenes, still lifes and details) from unexpected perspectives. His control of form, and the way in which he frames his subjects, invests his photography with a certain narrative potential and theatricality. Eggleston first experimented with colour photography in 1965 (using Canon and Leica cameras) and moved to New York in 1967. In the late 1960s, his primary medium was colour transparency film, and he is credited with having made a huge contribution towards its validation as an accepted art form. In 1973, he discovered dye-transfer printing and started using it extensively, partly because of the brilliant colour saturation it affords. In the mid 1970s, he became friends with Viva, one of the superstars in Andy Warhol’s Factory, and developed his concept of the ‘democratic camera’. Curator John Szarkowski exhibited his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976. Many of his most well-known series were shot in the Deep South of America, in Mississippi and Tennessee: 14 Pictures (1974), Election Eve (1977), Morals of Vision (1978), Wedgwood Blue (1979), Troubled Waters (1980), Southern Suite (1981) and William Eggleston’s Graceland (1984).

William Eggleston (b. 1939) lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2008, a major retrospective was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A selection of his photographs was included in Documenta 11 (2002). The Eggleston Artistic Trust was founded in 1992.

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