William Eggleston: Mystery of the Ordinary


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ISBN: 9783969992203 Category:


I am at war with the obvious. William Eggleston

At the beginning of photography, the sky was invariably grey, and both art photography and photojournalism were long dominated by black and white. Although the first universal colour slide film came onto the market in 1935, it was reserved for the world of advertising, and as late as the 1980s it was still considered commercial, vulgar and unartistic. Despite this, from the 1960s more and more photographers began to discover the new creative possibilities of the medium.

William Eggleston, whose career has spanned over five decades, not only substantially contributed to this paradigm shift; he also noticeably influenced many subsequent generations. Along with Saul Leiter, Evelyn Hofer and Stephen Shore, Eggleston was one of the first photographers to recognize the distinctive power of colour and its unique capacity to create pictures that continuously challenge the everyday. He imbued banality with the uncanny and mysterious: particularly because colour is integral to human perception, Eggleston investigated his immediate surroundings again and again-as if he were somehow suspicious of the contents of his freezer, the ketchup bottle on the diner counter, not to mention the guns that appear as if by chance in so many of his pictures. Mystery of the Ordinary captures the full scope of Eggleston’s evolution and legacy: from the early black-and-white work of the late 1950s, in which we witness his discovery and exploration of themes and unconventional cropping’s, to some of his most iconic colour images.

Additional information

Weight 1541 g
Dimensions 24.6 x 30.7 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 16 January 2024
Number of pages 208
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by Felix Hoffman, Text by Joerg Sasse and Thomas Weski
Dimensions 24.6 x 30.7 cm
Weight 1541 g


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Born in Memphis in 1939, William Eggleston is regarded as one of the greatest photographers of his generation and a major American artist who has fundamentally changed how the urban landscape is viewed. He obtained his first camera in 1957 and was later profoundly influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment. Eggleston introduced dye-transfer printing, a previously commercial photographic process, into the making of artists' prints. His exhibition "Photographs by William Eggleston" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1976 was a milestone. He was also involved in the development of video technology in the seventies. Eggleston is represented in museums worldwide, and in 2008 a retrospective of his work was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and at Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2009. Eggleston's books published by Steidl include Chromes (2011), Los Alamos Revisited (2012), The Democratic Forest (2015), Election Eve (2017), Morals of Vision (2019), Flowers (2019), Polaroid SX-70 (2019) and The Outlands (2021)