Unboxing ‘William Eggleston’

William Eggleston  is a catalog accompanying a career retrostpective/best-of at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. It collects in one volume, all of Eggleston’s most well known pictures up to that time, from early black & whites to the brilliantly colored dye transfer color that he’s known for. Prior to this acquisition, I had Foote, Shore, Soth, Sternfeld, and the other early masters of color photography, but no Eggleston, and thanks to a 50% off coupon at Half Price Books, I was able to remedy that gross oversight.

William Eggleston really needs no introduction: it’s 2017, color photography won, and the revolution he helped begin with that 1976 MoMA show is, by now, long over, subsumed into the commodity market art world, and totally passé. Snapshot photography is a recognized style/school, with rules and workshops and all, and, while dye transfer is all but dead, Hipstamatic and VSCO and Lightroom can pretty much help you fake it convincingly-enough.

This is not to denigrate the work, or Eggleston’s place in the canon-as-it-is, but just to say that I’m not going to go into much detail on Eggleston or his work. You know the pictures: the lightbulb on the red ceiling (on the cover), the tricycle, you know them, and William Eggleston includes them.

My copy is a bit beat up, but the printing quality is great and the book itself is solid, as you’d expect from Thames & Hudson. And it’s well worth the 50%-off I paid for it. I wouldn’t pay the $200 current asking price (I paid less than 30% of that), nor the £400 I’ve seen it going for… For that kind of money, get a copy of William Eggleston’s Guide and spend the remainder on film or batteries or another book from one of the color snapshot greats: American Surfaces, maybe

Concept
Content
Design

Overall, I’d give it 3.8 stars.

If you don’t have a William Eggleston monograph, this is a good choice, especially if you can pick it up for 1/2 of whatever the sticker price claims, and I’m very glad to have it in my collection, and look forward to studying it some to improve and enhance my own photography.

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