‘The Colourful Mr. Eggleston’ – One of the Most Influential Photographers Alive Today
“40 years ago [William Eggleston] dragged color, kicking and screaming, into the world of art photography.” In this fascinating documentary from BBC’s Imagine, we get a small glimpse at a photographic icon. William Eggleston was born in Tennessee in 1939 and raised in Mississippi. Inspired by Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston is credited with being the first photographer to give serious artistic credibility to color film. His exhibition, 14 Pictures, premiered at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976 under John Szarkowski.
Eggleston attended Vanderbilt for five years, but never managed a degree. Vanderbilt did, however, give him a Leica – which seemed to prove more useful, anyway. Years later, he would end up teaching at Harvard, and it was during that time he developed his method of dye-transfer printing. In 1976, his gallery opened at MOMA. Initial reviews of his exhibition were panned. Critics called him boring and banal. They have since apologized. Truthfully though, his work is banal – but perfectly so. Eggleston finds the beauty in the mundane. His images evoke the comfort of memories. They are oftentimes simple – because it’s the simplicity that we remember.
“Often…I have these.. I call them ‘photographic dreams.’ They’re just one beautiful picture after another – which don’t exist. A short time later I don’t remember them. I just remember being very happy during the dream… Always in color.”