NEW YORK, NY.-
The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern color photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar. At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
presents the work of this idiosyncratic artist, whose influences are drawn from disparate if surprisingly complementary sourcesfrom Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson in photography to Bach and late Baroque music. Many of Egglestons most recognized photographs are lush studies of the social and physical landscape found in the Mississippi delta region that is his home. From this base, the artist explores the awesome and, at times, the raw visual poetics of the American vernacular.
The exhibition celebrates the fall 2012 acquisition of 36 dye transfer prints by Eggleston that dramatically expanded the Metropolitan Museums collection of this major American artists work. It added the entire suite of Egglestons remarkable first portfolio of color photographs, 14 Pictures (1974), 15 superb prints from his landmark book, William Egglestons Guide (1976), and seven other key photographs that span his career.
Eggleston wrote that he was at war with the obvious, a statement well-represented in works such as Untitled [Peaches!] (1970)a roadside snapshot of rocks and half-eaten fruit thrown atop a sunlit corrugated tin roof capped with a sign announcing PEACHES! The exhibition features a number of the artists signature images, including Untitled [Greenwood, Mississippi] (1980), a study that takes full advantage of the chromatic intensity of the dye-transfer color process that, until Eggleston appropriated it in the 1960s, had been used primarily by commercial photographers for advertising product photography; and Untitled [Memphis] (1970), an iconic study of a childs tricycle seen from below. It was the cover image of the artists seminal book William Egglestons Guide, which accompanied his landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976.
As much as Eggleston was influenced by various sources, he, too, has proved influential. His inventive photographs of commonplace subjects now endure as touchstones for generations of artists, musicians, and filmmakers from Nan Goldin to David Byrne, the Coen brothers, and David Lynch.
At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston is organized by Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.