The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
North American; American
William Eggleston American, 1937-William Eggleston took a serious interest in photography when he discovered the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans while a student at Vanderbilt University in 1962. Like Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston's photographs rely heavily on ironic formal juxtapositions, with the added consideration of color. His work also depends on the banality of his subjects: the familiar people and places of his native Memphis and northern Mississippi. Like snapshots, his photographs are candid and commonplace, though they lack the snapshot's posed artifice and sentimental associations. Instead, Eggleston relies on straightforward documentation to effect a cool, often uncanny, distance between viewer and subject. Eggleston was among thefirst photographers to work regularly with new color technologies of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1967 he presented his work using color negative film to John Szarkowski, then director of the department of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Nine years later Szarkowski organized Eggleston's first solo exhibition at that museum, 75 dye transfer prints. In 1977 Caldecot Chubb, a close friend and supporter, published Eggleston's monograph Election Eve, which included work based on Alexander Gardner's Sketchbook of the Civil War. In 1978 Eggleston was invited to conduct research in color video at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His awards include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1974) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1978). He has photographed in Kenya (1980), Berlin, Salzburg, and Graz for his series Kiss Me Kracow (1983), Egypt (1986), England for the series English Rose (1988), the Transvaal (1989), and Spain (1990). He has also received commissions to shoot on location for John Huston's film Annie (1982), David Byrne's True Stories (1986), and throughout Elvis Presley's mansion, Graceland (1983). A major monograph, The Democratic Forest, was released in 1989, with an introduction by Eudora Welty. Eggleston also collaborated with writer Willie Morris on Faulkner's Mississippi, a book of photographs and accompanying text (1990). Eggleston lives in Memphis. A.W.
Creator Birth Place:
Near the River at Greenville, Mississippi
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
chromogenic process color print (Ektacolor)
Sheet: 40.6cm x 50.7cm, Image: 32.7cm x 49.4cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Purchased with a grant from the NEA and matched by contributions from Museum members in 1989
Written in black ink on verso: "Edition 1 of 3"; in blue ink: "William Eggleston [signed]"
Copyright ? 1984 Eggleston Artistic Trust. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
William Eggleston was among the first to take advantage of improved color technologies at a time when color photography was considered acceptable for snapshots, but not serious art. By 1966, he was using color exclusively, recording seeming banal, common, and ordinary objects and situations in his own spare, snapshot style. New the River at Greenville, Mississippi reveals Eggleston's dual interest in rich, lurid color and in the knowing description of place. The saturated hues spread throughout the composition energize the image, providing the backyard scene with an uncomfortable, almost threatening atmosphere.
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