Apart from being one of the first colour photographers, credited with increasing recognition for color photography as a legitimate artistic medium to display in art galleries.
A lot of his photographs are of mundane life objects, which can be found boring in this age of 500px landscapes and portraits done to perfection.
What makes his images so special? How can we as photographers stuck in mundane life situations create images that would be full of story and intrigue, that would captivate a viewer for more than milliseconds before they flip to another Instagram image?
Eggleston calls this his democratic method of photographing and explains that “it is the idea that one could treat the Lincoln Memorial and an anonymous street corner with the same amount of care, and that the resulting two images would be equal, even though one place is a great monument and the other is a place you might like to forget.”
From an article, regarding the tricycle image: This work is not about evoking emotions, rather it is about noticing that which is so obvious it is overlooked.
About the red ceiling image: His eye for color, enhanced by his dye-transfer process, ultimately enabled color photography to become a legitimate art form. Of this picture he once said, the deep red color was “so powerful, I’ve never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction.” At the time this photo was shown, most photographs were still black and white, so the vibrant red pigment was shockingly avant-garde.
The photographer’s controversial debut exhibition, “Eggleston’s Guide,” held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976, and curated by John Szarkowski. Back then, Ansel Adams, the most famous photographer of his day, wrote John Szarkowski(MOMA curator) a candidly critical two-page letter, excerpted here for the first time, wherein he called Eggleston“a put on.””I find little substance,” Adams continued.“For me,[Eggleston’s photographs] appear to be observations,’ floating on the sea of his consciousness… For me, most draw a blank.”
We have to remember that the only way is photography was expressed was thru a print. His images didn’t exist unless they were printed. So when you walked into the gallery and saw this huge red dye transfer print, it really made a statement. Today, the image exists mostly on a screen, so we’re likely to be less impressed by colorful mundane objects. We just see so much of it.
Before this, galleries were probably showing mostly well crafted black and white prints. Color imagery was deemed only appropriate for advertising and such.
It was a great time catching up with Antonio, and chatting about William Eggleston, and photographing mundane things.
Thank you for listening, and I’ll catch you next week.
Links to read more about William Eggleston:
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/06/07/william-eggleston-moving-targets/ This is a good summary if you only have time to read one..