Gagosian Gallery, 2012
25.4 × 36 cm
Catalog of the exhibition WILLIAM EGGLESTON: Los Alamos (Thursday, September 27–Saturday, November 10, 2012) at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles.
From the Gallery press release:
I just wait until [my subject] appears, which is often where I happen to be. Might be something right across the street. Might be something on down the road. And I’m usually very pleased when I get the image back. It’s usually exactly what I saw. I don’t have any favorites. Every picture is equal but different. —William Eggleston
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs from William Eggleston’s Los Alamos series. This will be Eggleston’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles since 2004. A Memphis native, Eggleston carved his distinct oeuvre from the immediate world around him, incorporating all shades of life into his vivid photographs and thus pioneering an approach that derives its power from a refined form of spontaneous observation. A modern-day flâneur, he captures compelling fragments, events, and personalities of the ordinary world on the streets and in the parlors of small-town America. His subject matter, such as parked cars, billboards and abandoned storefronts, are seemingly banal, yet the idiosyncratic manner in which he orders his observations creates a world of enigma and unexpected beauty, unflinching in its veracity. This exhibition comprises twenty-eight large-scale pigment images from the Los Alamos series, printed from vintage negatives. Some images were first printed in the early 2000s as dye transfers. Others have never been seen before. Eggleston shot them on the road between 1966 and 1974 in the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Alamos, and other locations across the United States, naming the Los Alamos series after the laboratory where atomic weapons were developed. In the intimate portraiture and stark landscapes, the profound influence of his aesthetic on contemporary image-making is plain. His self-professed “democratic camera” seeks out spontaneous moments of aesthetic exception—a neon light glowing piercingly in a darkened motel room; the back of a smooth, perfectly arranged grey updo; a collection of dolls; a gawky young man pumping gas. Tightly cropped and condensed, each object or subject assumes a narrative life of its own, charged with mystery and possibility. Geographically non-specific and seemingly timeless, the freedom and congeniality of these loosely framed portraits is a hallmark of Eggleston’s working style—emanations of a steadfastly egalitarian vision and a poetic eye.
A Memphis native, William Eggleston developed his distinct oeuvre from the immediate world around him, incorporating all shades of life into his vivid photographs, and pioneering an approach that derives its power from a refined form of spontaneous observation. A modern–day flâneur, he captures compelling fragments, events, and personalities of the ordinary world. Eggleston is largely credited with legitimizing color photography as a fine art form. More than a century after the advent of color film, and a decade after popular media fused with contemporary art, his first museum exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976 was also the first time that color photography had been considered in this context. Thirty–eight years after this historic moment, Eggleston continues his innovations in photography. In recent years, advances in digital processes allow him to print images on a much larger scale, at times even surpassing the quality of color saturation associated with dye–transfer, the vibrant and exquisite printing process which is his hallmark.
William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee. He studied at the University of Mississippi, Oxford; Delta State College, Mississippi, and Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. Recent solo exhibitions include “Cadillac Portfolio,” Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2003); “Spirit of Dunkerque,” Lieu d’Art et d’Action Contemporaine, France (2006); “Portfolios,” Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2007); “William Eggleston Color Portraits–1974,” Inverleith House, Scotland (2007); “L’oeil démocratique,” Centre de Photographie de Lectoure, France (2008); “Democratic Camera, Photographs and Videos 1961–2008,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008, traveled to Haus der Kunst, Munich; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, California); “Paris,” Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2009, traveled to Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and Hasselblad Foundation, Sweden); “Paris–Kyoto,” Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2010); “21st Century,” SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo (2010); “Anointing the Overlooked,” Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Tennessee (2011); “Before Color,” Fotomuseum, The Netherlands (2012, traveled to Peder Lund, Norway); Tate Modern, London (2013); “Los Alamos,” Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2013); “Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition,” Somerset House, London (2013); “At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013); “From Black and White to Color,” Fondation Henri Cartier–Bresson (2014, traveled to Musée de l’Elysée, Switzerland, through 2015); “William Eggleston, a cor americana,” Instituto Moreira Salles, Brazil (2015); and “William Eggleston Potraits,” National Portrait Gallery, London (2016).
Eggleston currently lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.