“There are four simple words on the matter, which must be whispered: Color photography is vulgar.”
So spoke no less an expert then the revered giant of the form, Walker Evans in 1969. Though it might surprise some, Evans was speaking for most of the art world when he delivered his snobbish indictment.
Seven years later, a young color photographer from Memphis named William Eggleston was given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. It was the first time color photography had been exhibited inside this venerable institution and the show was met with an avalanche of critical hostility. 33 years later, the art world has changed its mind. And with a vengeance. Eggleston is now considered a giant of the form and one of the most important American photographers of all time. His rich, often oversaturated images of ordinary objects, places and people offer an almost textbook example of the word intangible; for in these images of the ordinary it is almost impossible to escape a feeling of the extraordinary; though most would be powerless to explain in words exactly what is extraordinary about William Eggleston’s images.
But they are.
As we live in the age of the Internet, we will now invite the reader to read a little further, watch our latest installment of SoLost (yes, starring Eggleston), then head back out into the wilds of the web to learn more about this singular artist. Eggleston’s history is too rich and diverse to sum up briefly. Suffice it to say that his work helped engineer a far wider acceptance of color photography as art and influenced generations of photographers as well as filmmakers like Gus Van Sant and Sophia Coppola. A unique talent, indeed.
Eggleston is also a supremely talented pianist. This we know because SoLost was invited by the makers of “Nothing Can Stop Me: The Big Star Story,” a film about legendary cult rockers Big Star (whom Eggleston knew and documented over the years) to tag along for an afternoon with Eggleston at his sister’s home in Memphis. He was planning to play the piano.
Here, then, is a small taste of that excursion…
SoLost Producer / Director: Dave Anderson Photography
Editing and Postproduction: Jonathan Childs
Motion Graphics: TJ McCoy
Executive Producer: Warwick Sabin
SoLost is an Oxford American production.
(c) 2010 The Oxford American Literary Project