William Eggleston is a genius. It’s just my opinion but I can’t think many other photographers who have been so influential over the last 50 years.
Like all great artists his eye was wholly original, clicking the shutter on things that very few at the time would have deemed worthy of shooting.
Whether it’s flowers on a radiator, a rusting sign or a suburban front garden.
Who in the 1970’s would think that taking a picture of some parked cars would be a good idea?
Eggleston clearly. And when we look at that image now it has a strange eerie resonance and quiet beauty about it. Even though there are no people in the shot, it feels utterly human.
I recently purchased his book ‘2 ¼’, which has proved one of my better decisions, so I have had plenty of opportunity to leaf through some of his finest images.
Many times we speak of the ‘world of an artist’. If someone says that image feels ‘very Diane Arbus’ for example, we know exactly what that means and similarly with Eggleston. There is a consistent point of view that shows the slow decay of the Deep South.
The humans that do appear in the shots are often solitary and the photographer’s relationship to them unclear. Friends? Passers by? In a way it doesn’t matter. By placing them in his world they become emblematic of it. A broken ramshackle Kingdom, where upturned cars are left to disintegrate by the side of the road and boarded up café’s are closed for business.
I end with a a snippet from the documentary ‘William Eggleston in the Real world’ which lets the great man tell you about his philosophy in his own words