William Eggleston Best Books and Series:

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Birth Date: 27 July 1939
Birth Place: Memphis
Known as: | Bill Eggleston |
Sex: male
Awards: | Guggenheim Fellowship | | Hasselblad Award |
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Birth date: 27 July 1939
Birth place: Memphis
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All languages: | English |
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Member of: American Academy of Arts and Sciences
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Participant in: | Documenta 11 |
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Also known as: | Bill Eggleston |
Native name: William Eggleston (English)
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Family name: | Eggleston |
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Copyright: works protected by copyrights
Citizenship: | United States of America |
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Education: | University of Mississippi | | Vanderbilt University | | The Webb School |
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Described by: | Modern Times: Photography in the 20th Century | | Metropolitan Museum of Art Constituent Database |
Website: | http://www.egglestontrust.com |
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Fields of work: | photography |
Occupation: | photographer | | artist |
Employer: | Harvard University |
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William Eggleston Biography and Interesting Facts

William Eggleston (born July 27, 1939) is an American photographer. He is widely credited with increasing recognition for color photography as a legitimate artistic medium. Eggleston's books include William Eggleston's Guide (1976) and The Democratic Forest (1989).

Early years

William Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Sumner, Mississippi. His father was an engineer and his mother was the daughter of a prominent local judge. As a boy, Eggleston was introverted; he enjoyed playing the piano, drawing, and working with electronics. From an early age, he was also drawn to visual media and reportedly enjoyed buying postcards and cutting out pictures from magazines. At the age of 15, Eggleston was sent to the Webb School, a boarding establishment. Eggleston later recalled few fond memories of the school, telling a reporter, "It had a kind of Spartan routine to 'build character'. I never knew what that was supposed to mean. It was so callous and dumb. It was the kind of place where it was considered effeminate to like music and painting." Eggleston was unusual among his peers in eschewing the traditional Southern male pursuits of hunting and sports, in favor of artistic pursuits and observation of the world. Nevertheless, Eggleston noted that he never felt like an outsider. "I never had the feeling that I didn't fit in," he told a reporter, "But probably I didn't."Eggleston attended Vanderbilt University for a year, Delta State College for a semester, and the University of Mississippi for about five years, but did not complete any degree. Nonetheless, his interest in photography took root when a friend at Vanderbilt gave Eggleston a Leica camera. He was introduced to abstract expressionism at Ole Miss by visiting painter Tom Young.

Artistic development

Eggleston's early photographic efforts were inspired by the work of Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank, and by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's book, The Decisive Moment. Eggleston later recalled that the book was "the first serious book I found, from many awful books...I didn't understand it a bit, and then it sank in, and I realized, my God, this is a great one." First photographing in black-and-white, Eggleston began experimenting with color in 1965 and 1966 after being introduced to the format by William Christenberry. Color transparency film became his dominant medium in the later 1960s. Eggleston's development as a photographer seems to have taken place in relative isolation from other artists. In an interview, John Szarkowski describes his first encounter with the young Eggleston in 1969 as being "absolutely out of the blue". After reviewing Eggleston's work (which he recalled as a suitcase full of "drugstore" color prints) Szarkowski prevailed upon the Photography Committee of MoMA to buy one of Eggleston's photographs. In 1970, Eggleston's friend William Christenberry introduced him to Walter Hopps, director of Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gal ... Read full biography