William Eggleston, born in 1939 as the son of a cotton farmer in Memphis, Tennessee, was a dandy and a bit of an enfant terrible in the South and in the photo world. He unleashed a storm of criticism when his work was exhibited for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by John Szarkowski in 1976. In the meantime, the view of him has visibly changed; through his works from the sixties and seventies, he is considered a central player in the visual history of America, alongside Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Lee Friedlander.
William Eggleston’s eye for details, his direct and sometimes careless eye for small everyday things – the oven, the children’s bicycle, the cocktail, the dirty dishes – freezes the ideal of the secure American home. His un-heroic images of landscapes, snapshots of washed-out yet achingly seductive landscapes deep within the American South, in Memphis, in Louisiana, require the viewer to expose him or herself to banality. His usage of intense color film material – the dye-transfer process used only in commercial advertisement at the time – which yielded famous bright red ceiling picture, but also some of the palest and harshest color images in the history of photography.
The exhibition was curated by Martin Holborn. Realisation in Winterthur: Urs Stahel. A collaboration with the Barbican Art Gallery, London, the Louisiana Museum, Humblebaek, and the Folkwang Museum, Essen.