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In spite of all that has been written about him, Eggleston remains an elusive figure, whose reticent manner has given rise to misunderstanding about his origin as a photographer. The story is often repeated that Eggleston’s career began suddenly one day in 1967, when he appeared at The Museum of Modern Art with a suitcase full of his Kodachrome slides for Chief Curator of Photography John Szarkowski. Although that meeting did take place, during which a professional relationship was established, it has been endowed with a mythic quality that distracts from the most significant factors involved in Eggleston’s emergence. First, he was aided by the critical acceptance of Pop Art in the 1960s and the movement’s preoccupation with everyday objects as the materials of fine art. Second, his strategy of appropriating the dye transfer process, an expensive and highly archival printing method normally used for high-end advertising images of consumer goods, places him within the dominant mode of conceptual art practice in the 1970s. Third, he spent nine years cultivating a relationship with Szarkowski, working with him to edit a large number of photographs to create a portfolio that would become the basis for his solo exhibition. Szarkowski’s curatorial backing was crucial in overcoming the critics’ skepticism of color photography.

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