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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Magical Color Photographs by William Eggleston: The Mysteries of Everyday Life

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A good dozen original “dye transfer prints” hang in the heart of the exhibition. William Eggleston, probably the most important colorist in the history of photography, used the expensive Technicolor process to produce colour-intensive prints.

Now the American doesn’t necessarily dabble in color (his early black-and-white work is also on display). In 1980 he put the lens in a white-encrusted freezer compartment, light blue and soft pink packaging inside, bright red letters enhance the arctic impression.

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Eggleston looked for the ordinary, in kitchens and hotel bedrooms, on country roads or parking lots. He found the mysterious in American everyday culture, which the photographer, who was born in Tennessee in 1939, owes above all to his sense of unusual perspectives and special color tones.

“Mystery of the Ordinary” is the title of the big solo show at C/O Berlin. For the first time ever, several series are presented in an Eggleston exhibition. Even photos from West Berlin in the 1980s can be seen: graffiti on the Wall, neon signs on Ku’damm. This completes a circle in the America House – built in 1956/57 for the purpose of cultural representation of the USA, today the C/O location.

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The trips to Berlin by American photographers like Eggleston were financed by the US government during the Cold War. The “frontline town” was important for his career, explains curator Felix Hoffmann: “In the 1980s, photographers like Eggleston were still no-names. Via the detour in Europe, they became heroes in the USA”.

The 83-year-old photographer has not come to Berlin, but his daughter Andra and his eldest son have. William junior, who as a child often accompanied his father on photo tours, tells the press that he never hesitated when taking pictures. “Sometimes Dad would hold the camera out the car window for a moment,” says William Eggleston III, “and you wouldn’t even know he was pressing the shutter button.”

For the young Eggleston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, the hunter of the ‘decisive moment’, had been a defining figure, but the American circled the action, as if to make things last. Cartier-Bresson condenses time, Eggleston unhinges it. The world appears to him to be floating and weightless. With him, even pinball players seem to have sunk into deep melancholy.

The slot machine scene is from the “Los Alamos” series, in which Eggleston compiled around 2,200 photographs taken between 1965 and 1974. Also featured among the C/O picks is his first color shot – of a young supermarket clerk pushing shopping trolleys together. Here Eggleston’s penchant for the golden light and the long but lightened shadows of the magic hourthe short period of time before sunset.

Eggleston photographed the parked cruiser around 1972.
© Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner

The series “The Outlands” will be shown as a European premiere: previously unreleased material that was first presented at the end of 2022 at the David Zwirner gallery in New York. Together with his son William, the pioneer of “New Color Photography” had viewed thousands upon thousands of Kodachrome slides from his archive for eleven years and selected around 400 of them for re-release.

The photos date from the period between 1969 and 1974 when Eggleston took pictures in his hometown of Memphis and down to the Mississippi Delta, which were then shown in a groundbreaking exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

In fact, the “Outlands” presented at C/O as large-format prints really do look good outtakes exist, aesthetically they are real Egglestons. Time lost and found. dream colors. Simply magical.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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