William Eggleston

Born 1939, U.S.A..
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William Eggleston Biography

Though critically divisive at the time, William Eggleston's 1976 solo exhibition at MoMA and its companion book, William Eggleston's Guide, boldly heralded the entrance of color photography into the realm of fine art. Equally revolutionary was Eggleston's “democratic way of looking around” – his ability to find sublimities of form and composition in commonplace subjects.

William Eggleston was born on 27 July 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Sumner, Mississippi. His interest in photography began after a classmate at Vanderbilt University gave him a Leica camera. His early work was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson's book The Decisive Moment, but he soon began experimenting with color photography; his first frame depicted a young grease-haired grocery store clerk pushing a train of shopping carts. These images, which bore a more superficial resemblance to tourist snapshots than the finely finished prints of Ansel Adams or Edward Weston, nonetheless intrigued John Szarkowski, MoMA's director of photography; in 1969, he prevailed upon the museum to acquire one of Eggleston's photographs and seven years later curated his inaugural solo show. Eggleston went on to produce several important photobooks, experiment with video and collaborate with filmmakers John Huston and David Bryne. In 2017, an album of Eggleston's experimental electronic soundscapes was released on the indie label Secretly Canadian. Eggleston currently lives and works in Memphis.

Eggleston's works have been accessioned into the permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among many oth major public institutions.

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