William Eggleston: Interpretations?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by ericc22, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Greetings,

    I am a big fan of William Eggleston's. I own 3 of his books --
    Democratic Forest, Guide, and Los Alomos. Everytime I look at the
    images I see something new and I continually feel like the images are
    beyond me.

    Would anyone mind sharing their interpretation of his work? Help me
    understand him generally, or pick an image and share your thoughts.

    Anything I can learn would be most appreciated!

  2. Eric

    Have you seen Sally Eauclaire's books The New Colour Photography (1981) and New Colour/New Work (1984)? Both feature Eggleston's work and that of many others with similar styles. Eauclaire offers accompanying short essays with interpretations of selected images.
  3. letting go of trying to understand it might help you understand it
  4. I'm intrigued by Eggleston's work. I feel that his work is concerned with the sheer 'strangeness' of the world, the random circumstances that cause objects to come into conjunction in a manner that, for some reason, we find visually interesting. It may be useful to look at the work of Winogrand also since he, too, has a similarly existential approach to photography.
  5. Chris,

    Picking up on the existenial theme, I see this in the work of Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and many others. Would it be going too far to suggest that many are attracted to photography because the role of 'observer' standing apart taking pictures fits with their sense of alienation?
  6. To sum up what I see in Eggleston's photographs: "ANY thing is art if you see it as such."
  7. John,

    In my own case I also have an abiding interest in philosophy with its necessarily sceptical, critical, analytical position. I sense that the photographers you mention, certainly Arbus, did have at least a sense of detachment from what one might call mainstream sensibilities. When Winogrand was once asked why he took photographs, he replied, "To see how things look when they're photographed".
  8. Have you read the introduction to "Guide"? I thought Szarkowski's words on Eggelston's work were thought provoking. Another good source on Eggleston and many others like him is "Walker Evans & Company."

    To answer your question, when I look at his pics, I feel something I can't always identify. Often, it is something like familiarity or nostalgia over something just out of my mind's reach--maybe something I've long forgotten.

    His pics show me a sense of possibility--bits of life that hint at longer narratives the viewer can create based on his/her experiences in life.

    It's tough to talk/write about any good art. If it weren't, then I'm not sure I would understand the point of different mediums?

    That said, I'd still like to hear from some more people on Eggleston.
  9. I always felt that his work was straightforward, on the surface at least. He basically seems to be just presenting his world as he sees it. I haven't read all of his interviews but he does seem to be quite evasive and offers little detailed insight himself. I know that he put alot of thought into the printing aspect and let certain colours dominate, but other than that he doesn't seem to get too caught up in it all. I believe that his famous line sums it up nicely: "I am at war with the obvious"... or something like that.

    This is probably why many have trouble with his photographs because he's not shooting in an obvious way, such as a Nat Geo photographer would.

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