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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Eggleston

Dates:  1939, 27 July -
Born:  US, TN, Memphis
Active:  US
Website:  www.egglestontrust.com
 
  
American color photographer dealing with the surreal and mundane color snap-shot existence of southern life.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William Eggleston
Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK)

 
  
William Eggleston's colour photographs pinpoint the moment when colour photography began to be generally accepted as part of the language of art photography. Adopting processes previously used to manipulate advertising images, Eggleston set the precedent for colour documentary and art photography of the last twenty years. Eggleston finds in places such as shopping centres and ordinary interiors, "the uncommonness of the commonplace", as photographer Raymond Moore described it. Inspired by the beauty of family snapshots, Eggleston looks at the everyday and the overlooked in order to reveal them as remarkable. 
  
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission. 
  
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011. 
  
SHARED BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION PROJECT 
  
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
 
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.
 
  

Biography provided by Focal Press 
  
His exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976, William Eggleston’s Guide, featuring lush dye-transfer prints of the banal made in the American South ushered in the acceptance of color photography as a fine art. By means of a sophisticated snapshot aesthetic, Eggleston uses color to describe scenes in psychological dimensions that makes everyday events look unusual. Initially criticized for making vulgar images of insignificant subjects, such as a light bulb or the inside of an oven, he promoted the notion that anything could be photographed by democratically filling the dull existential void of American culture with color. The skewed angles of his "shotgun" pictures, not using the camera’s viewfinder, helped to open the traditional "photographer’s eye" in terms of how images are composed and what is acceptable subject matter. In turn, this sparked questions about the interpretation and response viewers have to images, and what the role of makers is in educating their audience. 
  
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
  
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 
  

Further research

 
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Portraits 
  
If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful. 
  
alan@luminous-lint.com
 
  
Family history 
  
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch. 
  
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Visual indexes

 
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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online (www.groveart.com) has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website
 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

 
• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
  
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.165 
  
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
  
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on William Eggleston.] 
  
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.455 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
  
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.129-130 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
  
 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

 
• Bauret, Gabriel (ed. and text) 2001 Color Photography (New York: Assouline) [Includes example color photographs by William Eggleston] 
  
• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.246 
  
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by William Eggleston are included in this classic history.] 
  

Collections

Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 
  

 
In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections William Eggleston was represented in 49 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
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