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William Eggleston

American  •  b. 1939

Biography

William Eggleston's highly saturated, vivid images, predominantly capturing the American South, highlight the beauty and lush diversity in the unassuming everyday. Although influenced by legends of street photography Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston broke away from traditional black and white photography and started experimenting with color in the late 1960s.

At the time, color photography was widely associated with the commercial rather than fine art — something that Eggleston sought to change. His 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Color Photographs, fundamentally shifted how color photography was viewed within an art context, ushering in institutional acceptance and helping to ensure Eggleston's significant legacy in the history of photography.

Insights

  • William Eggleston is best known for his dye transfer prints, a highly stable color process famous for its intense saturation of color.

  • Today, dye transfer printing is both costly and rare, as Kodak stopped manufacturing the chemicals to make the prints in the mid-1990s.

  • Eggleston's decisively casual images harbingered the use of color as a vital component of photographic composition.

"I am at war with the obvious."

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