Photo by William Eggleston.
Yesterday, Saturday, my wife and I visited London to see the William Eggleston Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery and then go on to see a play.
The weather was warm but wet however, this didn’t dampen our day. On arrival to Trafalgar square, I mistakenly went in to The National Gallery and after a quick scout around asked a member of staff where the William Eggleston exhibition was. The young lady gave me a look that one would have expected to get from the head waiter at Simpsons when asked for a Big Mac and fries. She politely and a little condescendingly informed me that I was in the wrong gallery and directed me around the corner for The National Portrait Gallery.
As I walked around the corner and entered The National Portrait Gallery, I noted that it is all part of the same building but separated and given a side entrance. Unconsciously perhaps placing portraiture in it’s considered place in the hierarchy of Art.
Photo by William Eggleston, this eligant but prim woman sits legs crossed next to a post wrapped in chain and pad-locked. The post appears to act like a metaphor you can look bot can’t touch!
Anyhow, having found the exhibition we enjoyed Eggleston’s mixture of black-and-white and colour photos of mostly friends and family. Some of the pictures on display were seen for the very first time as they had come from his private collection. Also there was a display of some of Eggleston’s video work that he had made in the early 70’s a genre that I was unaware that he has worked in. His pictures and video was of his life in Mississippi and it was clear from his images that he is a very good observer a talent that I have always had myself but only now with this photography degree course can I see a real use for it and have a reason to develop it further. This exhibition was about his portraiture based work and had interesting details about his subjects, such as the dentist who had lost his practice through his use of drugs and later died in suspicious circumstances; his road trip with Dennis Hopper; his friends and neighbors, etc.
Photo by William Eggleston.
This image Eggleston describes as his first attempt with colour and pleased with it’s success that he felt worked continued. I agree the low sun from the sun-set or sunrise gives this young man’s skin tomes a very warm hue. I like the shadow that repeats, yet with what is probably Eggleston’s shadow it also suggests another narrative. The lady in the corner also works for a triangular formed composition.
My personal favorite photo was of a girl he photographed in black-and-white in a local night club who was clearly had at least one too many. (Didigiat image unavailable)
Eggleston’s Grand-father with his man-servant at a funeral, photographed by William Eggleston.
I note that many photographers that are recognized in the art world are from privileged or fairly affluent backgrounds, naturally photography is not a cheap past time and for it helps to mix in the right circles in order to get interesting pictures in sometimes exotic locations. Eggleston is no exception, from a wealthy family background he has been fortunate enough to have the support and subject matter to tap in to.
Following on from this exhibition we ended the day enjoying a good play about a 30’s film producer, called ‘The Last Tycoon’ The play reminded me of my exhibition and the title reminded me of the photo of Eggleston’s Grand-father with his man-servant who is unconsciously mimicking his boss’ pose.