William Eggleston's Memphis Bar Photos In New Book


Two young women veiled in soft light are talking on a sofa on a Memphis summer night in 1973. One has fallen into a bathtub full of water and put on a blue velour robe to soak up the mess. She had been crying about a boy. Her best friend, wearing a red dress her mother made, curls up to her upset friend and they talk into the morning.

Their names are Karen and Lesa, and they were photographed by William Eggleston, who they knew as “Bill.” He had been taking so many photos that evening that they didn’t pay much attention as he set up lights to capture the beautiful picture.

Eggleston is credited with turning color photography into an art form and inspiring the look of such films as Blue Velvet and The Virgin Suicides. A new book of his work, 5x7, features photographs taken by Eggleston in 1973 of myriad patrons in Memphis bars. This photograph, taken after Karen and Lesa had followed revelers to a friend’s house, is among them.

Read Memphian Emily Yellin's story about the photo in Smithsonian magazine. -Cherie Heiberg

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