MEMPHIS, TN.- An exhibition of photographs by William Eggleston is on view at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art through March 25, 2007. Vernacular Icons: Photographs by William Eggleston explores the photographers method of capturing the real world by choosing to shoot seemingly unimportant places and objects. His democratic way of seeing was influenced more by his personal vision than by previous artistic styles. Through his large-format prints of everyday subject matter, he creates iconic images of ordinary scenes. The exhibition is comprised primarily of photographs from two of his 1980 portfolios, Troubled Waters and New Orleans Project.
A Memphis native, Eggleston has worked almost exclusively in color since 1966. Color photography was unusual for the time, since it was a commercial process and primarily used in advertising. Ten years later he was given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which provoked much controversy among critics, some of whom viewed his photographs as mere snapshots of random subjects. The appreciation of Eggleston's work has greatly increased since the 1976 exhibition, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential figures in the evolution of color art photography.
Eggleston believes that color is a fundamental feature of perception, as well as a vital aspect of documenting daily life. Many of his photographs have vague titles or remain untitled. He prefers viewers to approach his photographs without preconceptions, forcing his audience to develop their own interpretations and conclusions. His works are layered with ambiguities and invite speculation.