William Eggleston – Exhibition

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William Eggleston is ‘known for his rich and complex images of the American South’ – The exhibition displayed the colour photography he was experimenting with in the 1960’s, at time where colour photography was hard to process and hard to find. There were photographs from his series which depicted Americain culture before the 1976 election and other image from the similar period which used some of the same visual devices as his election work. All images were neatly presented at eye-level in a well lit environment, the exhibition writing set the context for the images.

Eggleston’s photography clearly sets the bar high for colour photography considering the date each photograph was taken. Each image contained devices which draw in the viewer to think about the images more deeply and consider there relationship with the 1976 election. The use of reflections and the absence of people provokes presence, and a world beyond the frame, suggesting the tension among americans regarding the future surrounding the election. Most images in the series feature an inanimate object which dominates the frame, such as gas pumps and cars; these objects become artefacts after the capture because of the period they were taken, even if the area surrounding them is beaten and neglected, their nostalgia summarises the beauty of american culture and industry. The absence of people in their inanimate images seems to capture the anxiety of the period aswell, however, some images didn’t have the same effect as others, the deadpan style of some of Eggleston’s images didn’t provoke the same response as the images of cars, empty tables and other inanimate objects. A photograph of a road leading outside the frame was in essence, an image that had absence of people, showed the emptiness of an american dream with no one taking the journey, but I felt the was more to be seen from other images about this theme, like the photography by Jeff Brouws. But the subtle reflections and the depiction of American culture made the exhibition a successful homage to Eggleston’s photography.

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