William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008

Overview

Elvis’s Graceland, a freezer stuffed with food, a Gulf gasoline sign standing in a deserted rural landscape—these are only a few of the iconic images captured by the “democratic camera” of photographer William Eggleston. Not only has he drawn upon images so telling of American culture, he has produced them with an intensity and balance of color that have helped elevate the entire field of color photography to a fine art, especially since his 1976 exhibition at the Museum of ...

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Overview

Elvis’s Graceland, a freezer stuffed with food, a Gulf gasoline sign standing in a deserted rural landscape—these are only a few of the iconic images captured by the “democratic camera” of photographer William Eggleston. Not only has he drawn upon images so telling of American culture, he has produced them with an intensity and balance of color that have helped elevate the entire field of color photography to a fine art, especially since his 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

Drawing together Eggleston’s famous and lesser-known works, this lavishly illustrated catalogue is the first to examine both his photography and videos. Of particular relevance are his black-and-white images from the late 1950s and 1960s, which helped shape his color photography, as well as the relationship between his provocative video recordings of 1970s Memphis nightlife and his later work. Included are reproductions of newly restored prints, executed specifically for the exhibition.

Filled with new and challenging contributions to scholarship and accompanying the first major U.S. survey of his work, this catalogue will prove the standard reference for Eggleston’s photographs for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"Besides more than 134 plates, this invaluable retrospective contains stills from Eggleston's cinema verité videotape Stranded in Canton and six cogent, jargon-free essays, the best by Eggleston's longtime writer friend, Stanley Booth."—Booklist
Chicago Tribune
Some of the images—an oven interior, shower stall, ceiling with electrical cords and light bulb—are classics. But this catalog . . . goes back to Eggleston's black-and-white work and extends to videos, becoming the most comprehensive volume on a master it's impossible to overrate.—Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune

— Alan G. Artner

Chicago Tribune - Alan G. Artner
"Some of the images—an oven interior, shower stall, ceiling with electrical cords and light bulb—are classics. But this catalog . . . goes back to Eggleston's black-and-white work and extends to videos, becoming the most comprehensive volume on a master it's impossible to overrate."—Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune
Library Journal

Eggleston, the subject of the Whitney Museum show this book accompanies, was instrumental in ending, in the 1960s and -1970s, the resistance to color photography as a respectable art form. Eggleston saturates his extraordinary photographs with light and color, and this makes the banal seem exalted and infused with heightened significance. The images have an oracular quality in part from the sheer eclecticism of the compositions. People, trees, buildings-all are potential archetypes of the elusive cultural character of the locations he documented in his native South and, later, in more distant places like Kyoto, Orange County, and Berlin. Eggleston was inclined toward the aberrant in his choices of content-e.g., antifreeze stains on asphalt, close-ups of demented, drugged faces of the habitués of some menacing Southern underworld. Then jarringly, breathtakingly, the viewer is treated to a beautiful cloudscape that seems borrowed from the northern Renaissance, close-ups of meticulously cared-for hairstyles, or sunlight refracted through a glass of Coke. Eggleston is a deservedly venerated master, and a full tribute such as this is as compelling as it is overdue.
—Douglas F. Smith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300126211
  • Publisher: Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Publication date: 12/2/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisabeth Sussman is curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, and editor of Gordon Matta-Clark: “You Are the Measure.” Thomas Weski is chief curator of the Haus der Kunst, Munich. Tina Kukielski is senior curatorial assistant, Whitney Museum of American Art. Stanley Booth is an independent music critic and writer. Donna De Salvo is chief curator and associate director of programs, Whitney Museum of American Art, and coeditor of Lawrence Weiner: AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE.

 

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Table of Contents

Preface Adam D. Weinberg Weinberg, Adam D. Chris Dercon Dercon, Chris

"I Can't Fly, But I Can Make Experiments" Thomas Weski Weski, Thomas 1

The Boat to Canton Elisabeth Sussman Sussman, Elisabeth 21

Plates 33

Every Picture Donna De Salvo De Salvo, Donna 253

Closed on Tuesday: Some Place in These Pictures Tina Kuklelski Kuklelski, Tina 257

Triumph of the Quotidian Stanley Booth Booth, Stanley 263

Chronology Adam Welch Welch, Adam 269

Works in the Exhibition 279

Selected Exhibition History 282

Selected Bibliography 289

Lenders to the Exhibition 295

Index 298

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