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William Eggleston : An American in Paris…
William Eggleston
An American in Paris…
Linda Chenit, February 2, 2009
For the last three years, American photographer William Eggleston has photographed the city of Paris as part of a commission for the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. Taken throughout different seasons, these new images by one of the fathers of color photography portray the local and the cosmopolitan, the glamorous and the gritty, the everyday and the extraordinary. This exhibition also provides an exceptional occasion to bring together William Eggleston’s distinctive pictures and his recent paintings, an unknown aspect of his work that has never before been presented to the public. The Paris series of photographs forms the Fondation Cartier’s third commission to William Eggleston, following the Deserts (2000) and the Kyoto (2001) series. After his very first retrospective in 2001, this exhibition marks his second solo show at the Fondation, reflecting its commitment to artists over time.

William Eggleston_Paris series
William Eggleston_Paris series
 
The Paris Series

Although William Eggleston has frequently photographed internationally, his work is most closely associated with the American South, where he has always resided. The Fondation Cartier’s commission has brought about an unexpected encounter between this photographer, whose practice has often been considered local and intimate, and a city whose imagery is strongly prominent in our collective imagination. During several trips, William Eggleston has explored Paris to capture the many colors of the city. He has also renewed a long tradition of photographing Paris, as seen in the work of such greats as Eugène Atget or Henri Cartier- Bresson. These historical predecessors become reference points for Eggleston’s new series of Paris photographs, to which he incorporates his unique style. The series remains, as much of Eggleston’s work, an adventurous balancing act, remarkably distinct in its approach to Paris as a subject for photography.


William Eggleston/Untitled, c. 1975
William Eggleston/Untitled, c. 1975
 
“When people ask me what I do,” Eggleston has said, “I say that I am taking pictures of life today.” Many of the images of the Paris series express this concern for the everyday. He captures two children playing at a café, motorcycles at a stoplight, reflections in car windows, graffiti on buildings, anonymous passers-by. William Eggleston has often spoken of his desire to photograph “democratically.” For him, this means that everything may potentially yield a picture, and every element within the picture should be of equal importance and interest. In a city of glorious monuments, his eye is continuously on subjects one would normally overlook; he finds strange beauty in the kitsch, the neglected and the disused elements of city life.

William Eggleston/Dust Bells V1
William Eggleston/Dust Bells V1
 
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