‘Check under the bed’ show opens soon

Untitled (near Minter City and Glendora, Mississippi), 1970. Dye-transfer print, 20 x 24 in. Edition of 15. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, © Eggleston Artistic Trust.

     (AAPNW-TN) – William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked” is an exhibition bringing together recent works and iconic photographs by one of today’s most renowned photographers, opens at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts on Friday, January 21, 2011, and remains on view through May 1.

     The exhibition is comprised of 50 photographs by the Memphis, Tennessee resident, who is one of the most influential artists of his generation.  Also included in the show are selections from the permanent collection of the Memphis Brooks Museum, Cheim and Read Gallery, New York and the David Lusk Gallery in Memphis, ephemera objects and the screening of the 2007 documentary, “By the Ways: A Journey with William Eggleston. In conjunction, the Frist will also present a film series, “The Strangeness of the Ordinary,” featuring films by David Lynch, Gus Van Sant and Sofia Coppola, directors who have been influenced by Eggleston’s aesthetic innovations.

Untitled (Leg with Red Shoe, Paris), 2007. Pigment print, 22 x 28 in. Edition of 7. © Eggleston Artistic Trust.

     As a key figure in legitimizing color photography as an artistic medium, Eggleston reminds audiences of the inherent democratic uses of photography and our widespread access to it, mainly by not censoring, rarely editing, and photographing the seemingly forgettable.“What distinguishes Eggleston as an artist is his uncanny ability to capture everyday scenes or objects without slipping into sentimentality or nostalgia,” said Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Center, Dr. Susan Edwards. “His photographs are familiar yet nonspecific, compelling in their simplicity and intriguing by virtue of their understatement.”

     He attended Vanderbilt University, Delta State College and the University of Mississippi, but never received a college degree. His interest in photography took root during this period; in fact, he was given a Leica camera by a friend at Vanderbilt, and while studying art at Ole Mississippi, he was introduced to abstract expressionism by a visiting New York painter, Tom Young.

     Eggleston exhibited his works in the first solo exhibition of color photography in 1976 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “Color Photographs by William Eggleston” and its accompanying publication, “William Eggleston’s Guide” (after the Michelin Guide), caused something of a sensation among museum visitors and critics who found Eggleston’s use of color garish and his seemingly offhand approach antithetical to their expectations of art photography, which at the time was dominated by black and white images, printed in darkrooms as a sign of authorship and authenticity. 

Untitled (Memphis), ca. 1971. Dye-transfer print, 12 1/16 x 17 1/4 in. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art © Eggleston Artistic Trust.

     Colors in his early prints were intensified by the dye-transfer process, a printing technique developed by Kodak in the 1940s in which a succession of three color separations produces richly saturated and color-stable prints.  Once prevalent in advertising and fashion photography, Kodak’s dye-transfer technique allowed the artist to not only paint or direct the intensity of color in his prints, but also to mingle art and commerce.

     Born in Memphis in 1939, as a child, Eggleston was interested in painting and audio technology. Since turning to photography, he has been a remarkable chronicler of a culture that was being transformed by racial integration, air conditioning, strip malls, shopping carts and fast-food chain restaurants. While rooted in a specific place and time, the artist’s depictions of these transformations have a universal resonance that continues today, when our realities continue to show themselves to be in a constant state of flux.

Untitled (from Southern Suite portfolio), 1981. Dye-transfer print, 16 x 20 in. Edition of 12. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, © Eggleston Artistic Trust.

     This exhibit, although demonstrates that he is most celebrated for his photographs of the American South; viewers will discover that he is equally at ease across the country and around the world. “Eggleston reminds us not to take anything for granted,” says Dr. Edwards. “His photographs trigger connections, conjure memories and remind us always to check under the bed before going to sleep.”

     For more information, call 615.244.3340 or  see www.fristcenter.org.

Published by on December 2010. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Marketplace Guide, At the Museums dept, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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