Edited by Mark Holborn. Introduction by Eudora Welty
The Democratic Forest is a modern epic. This monumental work consists of many thousands of color photographs made during the eighties by the distinguished American photographer, William Eggleston. The book contains 150 images from this vast project, which has been sequenced in an almost autobiographical narrative. The sequence creates a cohesive composition starting in Eggleston's familiar landscape of Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta. The Democratic Forest radiates out from his private world to a common international landscape, passing through Pittsburgh, Nashville, New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami to reach as far as the Berlin Wall.
Eggleston's forest consists not only of the abundant foliage and vertical forms of trees, but also of the upright telegraph poles that line the highways and bind the world together with the wires of communication. It is an empty, uninhabited landscape populated by automobiles. Eggleston transcends his role as a great Southern artist and touches on a universal perspective.
Eggleston's democracy refers not to a political system, but to the camera's ability to represent everything equally. His astonishing eye takes us close into the familiar details of everyday life and transforms them into lyrical imagery. Cumulatively, he creates a profound and disturbing vision of our time. This view has no parallel in contemporary art and is unprecedented within the history of photography. Though centered in a private vision, it has the power to radically alter the way we see our own world.