William Eggleston


William Eggleston : biography

27 July 1939 –

Some of his early series have not been shown until the late 2000s. The Nightclub Portraits (1973), a series of large black-and-white portraits in bars and clubs around Memphis was, for the most part, not shown until 2005.Ken Johnson (July 29, 2005), New York Times. Lost and Found, part of Eggleston’s Los Alamos series, is a body of photographs that have remained unseen for decades because until 2008 no one knew that they belonged to Walter Hopps; the works from this series chronicle road trips the artist took with Hopps, leaving from Memphis and traveling as far as the West Coast.Carol Vogel (October 22, 2009), New York Times. Also not editioned until 2011, Eggleston’s Election Eve photographs were taken prior to the 1976 presidential election in Plains, Georgia, the rural seat of presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, and along the road from Memphis, Tennessee. Gagosian Gallery, Paris.

Eggleston also worked with filmmakers, photographing the set of John Huston’s film Annie (1982) and documenting the making of David Byrne’s film True Stories (1986).

He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Special 150th Anniversary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2003, Accessed 13 August 2012 and in 2013 was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award at the Sony World Photography Awards.


  • Eggleston, William (1989). The Democratic Forest. Introduction by Eudora Welty. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26651-0.
  • Eggleston, William; & Morris, William (1990). Faulkner’s Mississippi. Birmingham: Oxmoor House. ISBN 0-8487-1052-5.
  • Eggleston, William (1992). Ancient and Modern. Introduction by Mark Holborn. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-41464-9.
  • Lindgren, Carl Edwin. (1993 Summer). "Ancient and modern". Review of Ancient and Modern by William Eggleston. Number, Volume 19:20-21.
  • Lindgren, Carl Edwin. (1993). "Enigmatic presence". Review of Ancient and Modern by William Eggleston. RSA Journal (Journal of the Roy. Soc. of Arts), Volume 141 Number 5439, 404.
  • Woodward, Richard B. (October 1991). "Memphis Beau". Vanity Fair.


Eggleston’s work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide including “William Eggleston and the Color Tradition,” the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (1999); “William Eggleston,” Fondation Cartier, Paris (2001, traveled to Hayward Gallery, London); documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (2002); “William Eggleston: Los Alamos,” Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2002, traveled to Serralves Foundation, Portugal; Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway; Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Albertina, Vienna, Austria; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas through 2005). In 2008, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York mounted the retrospective exhibition “William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video 1961–2008,” this artist’s first New York museum solo since his 1976 debut, co-organized with Haus der Kunst in Munich; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.

Eggleston’s aesthetic

Eggleston’s mature work is characterized by its ordinary subject-matter. As Eudora Welty noted in her introduction to The Democratic Forest, an Eggleston photograph might include "old tyres, Dr Pepper machines, discarded air-conditioners, vending machines, empty and dirty Coca-Cola bottles, torn posters, power poles and power wires, street barricades, one-way signs, detour signs, No Parking signs, parking meters and palm trees crowding the same curb."

Eudora Welty suggests that Eggleston sees the complexity and beauty of the mundane world: "The extraordinary, compelling, honest, beautiful and unsparing photographs all have to do with the quality of our lives in the ongoing world: they succeed in showing us the grain of the present, like the cross-section of a tree…. They focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world!" Mark Holborn, in his introduction to Ancient and Modern writes about the dark undercurrent of these mundane scenes as viewed through Eggleston’s lens: "[Eggleston’s] subjects are, on the surface, the ordinary inhabitants and environs of suburban Memphis and Mississippi–friends, family, barbecues, back yards, a tricycle and the clutter of the mundane. The normality of these subjects is deceptive, for behind the images there is a sense of lurking danger." American artist Edward Ruscha said of Eggleston’s work, "When you see a picture he’s taken, you’re stepping into some kind of jagged world that seems like Eggleston World.”