William Eggleston's Guide.
Photographs by William Eggleston. Text by John Szarkowski.
Museum of Modern Art,
112 pp., 48 color and 1 black-and-white illustrations, 9x9".
Now in its third edition, expected mid-November
William Eggleston's Guide
Essay by John Szarkowski.
William Eggleston's Guide was the first one-man show of color photographs
ever presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum's
first publication of color photography. The reception was divided and passionate. The book and show unabashedly forced the art world to deal with color photography, a medium scarcely taken seriously at the time, and with the vernacular content of a body of photographs that could have been but definitely weren't some average American's Instamatic pictures from the family album.
These photographs heralded a new mastery of the use of color as an integral
element of photographic composition. Bound in a textured cover inset with a
photograph of a tricycle and stamped with yearbook-style gold lettering, the
Guide contained 48 images edited down from 375 shot between 1969 and 1971
and displayed a deceptively casual, actually super-refined look at the surrounding world. Here are people, landscapes, and odd little moments in and around Eggleston's hometown of Memphis-an anonymous woman in a loudly patterned dress and cat's eye glasses sitting, left leg slightly raised, on an equally loud outdoor sofa; a coal-fired barbecue shooting up flames, framed by a shiny
silver tricycle, the curves of a gleaming black car fender, and someone's torso; a
tiny, gray-haired lady in a faded, flowered housecoat, standing expectant, and
dwarfed in the huge dark doorway of a mint-green room whose only visible
furniture is a shaded lamp on an end table. For this edition of William
Eggleston's Guide, The Museum of Modern Art has made new color separations
from the original 35 mm slides, producing a facsimile edition in which the
color will be freshly responsive to the photographer's intentions.
Born in 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, William Eggleston works as a photographer in his home state and in Washington, D.C. He has been a lecturer in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, a researcher in color
video at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, and a recipient of
grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the
Arts, and the Arts Survey.
John Szarkowski is Director Emeritus of the Department of Photography at
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the author of numerous books, and a
photographer in his own right.