The godfather of colour photography, William Eggleston, has inspired a generation of artists, from David Lynch to Juergen Teller. He assumes a neutral gaze and creates his art from commonplace subjects. In his work, Eggleston photographs “democratically”–literally photographing the world around him. His large-format prints monumentalize everyday subjects, everything is equally important; every detail deserves attention.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: © Eggleston Artistic Trust, Courtesy David Zwirner New York/London
William Eggleston in his solo exhibition “Selected Works from The Democratic Forest” at David Zwirner presents 40 works from “The Democratic Forest”, the majority of which have not been exhibited previously. Although taken 30 years ago, the photographs appear to cast their subjects in a timeless light. “The Democratic Forest” is among Eggleston’s most ambitious projects and a prime example of his uniquely recognizable aesthetic. Likened to an epic journey or an enduring narrative, it comprises a careful selection of works from over ten thousand negatives he took in the mid-80s across the Southern and Eastern parts of America and in several European countries. These photographs of rural back roads, industrial and residential environs, architectural details, restaurant interiors, and parking lots, among other locales, eluded the conventions of both reportage and the black-and-white art photography practiced by many of the artist’s peers at the time, and instead shaped their own definition of what a photographic image could be intuitive and charged with imaginative possibilities. Collectively, the project echoes Eggleston’s predilection for the “democratic” vision of the camera, able to render equally what is in front of the lens. The project was published in a 10-volume set containing 1010 photographs, drawn from a body of 12,000 pictures made by Eggleston in the ‘80s. Eggleston’s traveled from his familiar ground in Memphis and Tennessee to Dallas, Pittsburgh, Miami, Boston, the pastures of Kentucky, and as far as the Berlin Wall. The democracy of Eggleston’s title refers to his democracy of vision, through which he represents the most mundane subjects with the same complexity and significance as the most elevated.
Info: David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street, New York, Duration: 27/10-17/12/16, Days & Hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00, www.davidzwirner.com