Friday, January 2, 2009

William Eggleston Retrospective Exhibit- Whitney Museum of Art

I am very excited to be heading into the William Eggleston Retrospective Exhibit at the Whitney Museum tomorrow. Eggleston is one of my favorite photographers. He was one of the first fine- art photographers to legitimatize the use of color in photography. I am attracted to this use of color but also really appreciate his composition and his ability to make the seemingly uninteresting, interesting. His work reminds me somewhat of the cold objective nature of Walker Evans and Eugene Atget. (below is a cut and paste description of Eggleston's work from Wikapedia)

Eggleston's aesthetic
Eggleston's mature work is characterized by its ordinary subject-matter. As Eudora Welty noted in her introduction to The Democratic Forest, an Eggleston photograph might include "old tyres, Dr Pepper machines, discarded air-conditioners, vending machines, empty and dirty Coca-Cola bottles, torn posters, power poles and power wires, street barricades, one-way signs, detour signs, No Parking signs, parking meters and palm trees crowding the same curb."

Eggleston has a unique ability to find beauty, and striking displays of color, in ordinary scenes. A dog trotting toward the camera; a Moose lodge; a woman standing by a rural road; a row of country mailboxes; a convenience store; the lobby of a Krystal fast-food restaurant -- all of these ordinary scenes take on new significance in the rich colors of Eggleston's photographs. Eudora Welty suggests that Eggleston sees the complexity and beauty of the mundane world: "The extraordinary, compelling, honest, beautiful and unsparing photographs all have to do with the quality of our lives in the ongoing world: they succeed in showing us the grain of the present, like the cross-section of a tree.... They focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world!" Mark Holborn, in his introduction to Ancient and Modern writes about the dark undercurrent of these mundane scenes as viewed through Eggleston's lens: "[Eggleston's] subjects are, on the surface, the ordinary inhabitants and environs of suburban Memphis and Mississippi--friends, family, barbecues, back yards, a tricycle and the clutter of the mundane. The normality of these subjects is deceptive, for behind the images there is a sense of lurking danger." American artist Edward Ruscha said of Eggleston's work, "When you see a picture he’s taken, you’re stepping into some kind of jagged world that seems like Eggleston World.”[3]

According to Philip Gefter from Art+Auction, “It is worth noting that Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, pioneers of color photography in the early 1970s, borrowed, consciously or not, from the photorealists. Their photographic interpretation of the American vernacular—gas stations, diners, parking lots—is foretold in photorealist paintings that preceded their pictures.”[4]

Log on to the Whitney Museum Website for a more indepth discussion of Eggleston's work and video interviews with the photographer.


Shipworm&Gribble said...

bill eggleston has reportedly never worn blue jeans in his life

glider said...

i guess he wasnt a hipster in skinny jeans