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Four Decades of Color

New York's Whitney Museum hosts William Eggleston retrospective.

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A major retrospective of the work of Memphis photographer William Eggleston is currently at the Whitney Museum in New York City through January 25th. Occupying the third-floor gallery, the exhibit covers the work of the Memphis artist from 1961 through 2008.

Included are Eggleston's early black-and-white photos as well as his signature color-saturated, dye-transfer images. There are images from the 1976 MoMA show that launched his career as an artist whose milieu was the South, particular Memphis. His compositions find beauty in the ordinary and direct the viewer to look closely at the mundane, often rendering these unsettling and unfamiliar.

"I think I had often wondered what other things see — if they saw like we see," Eggleston has remarked. "And I've tried to make a lot of different photographs as if a human did not take them. Not that a machine took them, but that maybe something took them that was not merely confined to walking on the earth. And I can't fly, but I can make experiments."

A new addition to the show is a full-length black-and-white video shot by Eggleston and set in Memphis and New Orleans. Rough with a homemade sensibility, the video provides additional insights into the photographer.

The Eggleston exhibit moves next to Washington, D.C. A 320-page catalog of the show is available for $60.

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