Friday, July 22, 2016

William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery

Distinguished Southern Photographer William Eggleston is having a major exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery in London, now up through October 23rd, 2016. 

This show constitutes a major career retrospective for Eggleston, including 100 color and black and white images dating from the 1960s to present, chosen to represent what the National Portrait Gallery is describing as "the most  comprehensive display of his portrait photography ever."

The National Portrait Gallery recognizes Eggleston for "his experimental use of colour and his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976  . . . considered a pivotal moment in the recognition of colour photography as a contemporary art form."

The show includes what the Gallery is describing as "monumental prints of two legendary photographs first seen forty years ago: the artist’s uncle Adyn Schuyler Senior with his assistant Jasper Staples in Cassidy Bayou, Mississippi (see image directly above), and Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi (see image at the top of this blog post).

The show also includes what the Gallery is billing as "a selection of never-before seen vintage black and white prints from the 1960s, featuring people in diners, petrol stations and markets in and around the artist’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, [that] help illustrate Eggleston’s unique view of the world."

If you can't make it to London for this show, The National Portrait Gallery has for sale the catalogue for the show, entitled William Eggleston: Portraits, with text by
Phillip Prodger and an appreciation of Eggleston's work by the Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola.

Or, you can order directly from the National Portrait Gallery a special edition (limited to 250 numbered copies) of this book, "encased in a beautiful cloth clamshell box with a cloth cover and signed by the photographer," for only £295.00, or about $400.00 US dollars. 

(I must say, as I read this description, I am reminded of the way John R or Gene Nobles or Hoss Allen used to describe the special deals available at Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, TN, during their shows on WLAC, in Nashville. I suspect Mr Eggleston remembers that, too.)

Anyway, while you are at the National Portrait Gallery's website, you can also pick up a copy of the Exhibition Poster for this show and register for a free trip to Memphis for three days of touring in the Eggleston country of southwestern Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta.

Based on the reviews, this show is a big hit in London. You can read more about the show here:
The Evening Standard gives the show ★★★★★, and writes “Two great pleasures result: seeing again images that are among the most resonant and eternally fascinating photographs ever made — like revisiting favourite songs — and encountering new, unexpected gems.”

Read the full review from The Evening Standard, July 19th, 2016, here.

Time Out London gives the show ★★★★★ and writes “You have to see Eggleston’s work edited in this way. And you have to see his photos in the flesh... If I could give it six stars, I would.”

Time Out, 19 July 2016
Read the full review

The Guardian also gives the show ★★★★★ and writes, “Eggleston never diminishes what he sees but somehow enlarges both the momentous and the trivial... It is all there. What a great show.”

Guardian, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

The Daily Telegraph gives the show ★★★★ and writes “Photographer William Eggleston's Southern Gothic is steamier than a heatwave -- Eggleston is essentially a storyteller, and the best images in this show aren’t so much portraits as passages in a lifetime’s narrative about a people, a culture and a place.”

Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

So, this one is a must-see show if you can get to London. 

Think about how far it is from Memphis or the Delta to London and to the National Portrait Gallery, and Mr Eggleston has made that journey. 

What a long, strange journey! What a joy to contemplate!  

Congratulations to Mr Eggleston!

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