Texts by William Eggleston III and Mark Holborn
A Memphis native, William Eggleston carved his distinct oeuvre from the immediate world around him, incorporating all shades of life into his vivid photographs and thus pioneering an approach that derives its power from a refined form of spontaneous observation. A modern-day flâneur, he captures compelling fragments, events, and personalities of the ordinary world on the streets and in the parlors of small-town America. His subject matter, such as parked cars, billboards and abandoned storefronts, are seemingly banal, yet the idiosyncratic manner in which he orders his observations creates a world of enigma and unexpected beauty, unflinching in its veracity. Eggleston is largely credited with legitimizing color photography as a fine art form. More than a century after the advent of color film and a decade after popular media fused with contemporary art, his first museum exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976, was also the first fine-art exhibition of color photography. Some thirty-five years after this historic moment, he continues to innovate in the photographic medium. The vibrant and exquisite dye-transfer process, that became a hallmark of his oeuvre, has limitations predicated on the size of available photographic paper. In recent years, advances in digital printing have allowed Eggleston to create his images on a much larger scale—44 x 60 inches—while equaling and even surpassing the quality of color saturation previously available only to the dye-transfer process.