© William Eggleston

Memphis, Tennessee (red cart) 3/9 - 1996
Dye-Transfer print, 49 x 58 cm

William Eggleston
From the Seventies

Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937, the photographer William Eggleston first became widely known through an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976. Significantly, Eggleston's avant-garde approach at that time was considered by all critics as vulgar and aesthetically deficient, whilst today we count him among those great revivers of the photographic image who have been influencing the medium since the late sixties.

William Eggleston's colour photographs pinpoint the moment when colour photography began to be generally accepted as part of the language of art photography. Adopting processes previously used to manipulate advertising images, like the dye-transfer technique, Eggleston set the precedent for colour documentary and art photography of the last thirty years.

The way William Eggleston has always looked at the world is that it is in colour. For him, colour is no longer an aspect of the photographic image to be treated separately, as has traditionally been the case, but a virtually natural vehicle of expression, a self-evident aspect of the visible world as we all know it: as a component of light, of nature and of a whole diversity of things.

Eggleston's photographs clearly relate very closely to everyday forms of expression. At the first glance, it seems associated with Memphis and its environments, everyday life and its objects. Yet upon closer inspection, you notice that the photographs transcend the merely descriptive. The images don't explain the world in an analytical way but afford the viewer insight into the artist's own private world. Eggleston's photographs are the expression of a roaming, personal imagination that shows the fragility of our existence in an adventurous balancing act between disturbing content and seductive beauty.

The work of William Eggleston mainly consists of large, epic series that reveal their coherence only after the facts, like the "Los Alamos Project": 2000 pictures of his wanderings in Memphis, Mississippi, New Orleans, South-California and Las Vegas between 1972 and 1975 or the "Democratic Forest": a number of photographs from the eighties.

"From the Seventies" focuses on William Eggleston's photographs from the 1970's and, in particular, on the portfolios "Troubled Waters" and "Cadillac". "Troubled Waters", one of Eggleston's more famous portfolios, contains 15 colour-intensive dye-transfer prints with material from the period he frequented the Chelsea Hotel and the Andy Warhol-crowd in New York. "Cadillac" represents a selection of 13 colour photographs that were taken in the 2 1/4 square format. All of the 13 images sharply reveal the temporary character of things, where metal rusts, paint peels, weeds invade, people age, paper fades and light congeals. Both portfolios are wonderful examples of the artist's idiosyncratic vision on photography, his masterly control over colour and his undeniable influence on the younger generation of photographers.

11 September - 25 October 2003
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 12 - 6 pm

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