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William Eggleston

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Original author: 
WSJ Staff

William Eggleston's photographs, some of which are on display now at The Met Museum in New York, reminds us why he an American master. Though not a fan of digital photography, Mr. Eggleston agreed to shoot a digital photo for the upcoming June issue of WSJ. Magazine. Get a preview of that photo here.

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Original author: 
Jeffrey Ladd

As an avid photobook enthusiast I have gone to great lengths to see books that are far out of my reach economically. I have spent countless hours at photobook auction previews just to carefully flip the pages of rarities that will be sold for thousands of dollars. I have no intent to bid or buy, or to check the condition which is the main reason for attending previews. My reasoning is just to experience and gauge my own level of interest (albeit quickly) concerning what are the important titles of photobook history. When so much material is out of reach, one depends almost entirely on the scholars and historians as a guide, but in the end it is all subjective. This is why I am so happy that MACK has succeeded in creating a facsimile edition of the Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri’s 1978 book Kodachrome. On the anniversary of Ghirri’s death, I finally have the chance after so many years to have the opinion that it’s, well, not my cup of tea.

Luigi Ghirri came to photography in 1970 with an interest in the conceptual side drawn from his training. One pursuit was the paradox of photography itself and uniting the real and the artificial, visible and invisible in the single image. Photographs in general, Ghirri believed, whether “art” or advertising, create a vast labyrinth of images to navigate daily through which it is difficult to decoding our true surroundings.

‘The daily encounter with reality, the fictions, the surrogates, the ambiguous, poetic or alienating aspects, all seem to preclude any way out of the labyrinth, the walls of which are ever more illusory… to the point at which we might merge with them… The meaning that I am trying to render through my work is a verification of how it is still possible to desire and face a path of knowledge, to be able finally to distinguish the precise identity of man, things, life, from the image of man, things, and life.’

That, for me, is interesting to ponder philosophically but are the works in Kodachrome, in the words of essayist Francesco Zanot, “powerful devices for the re-education of the gaze?” This seems a modest collection through which many things can be projected, but without the textual introductions of the edition laying out the intent, or at least providing guidelines for reading, I don’t see the photographs alone enabling the task. A small handful of the 92 images compel me to try — but most have me grappling just to keep my attention.

The qualities of the photography in Kodachrome call into question for me why this book seems so universally revered among the writers of photobook history. The major developments in color photography in general seem so often boiled down to the Americans “William Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” whereas post-war European color photography books seem to get scant attention — even though one of the first true pioneers of color work was the Danish photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen with his 1948 book 122 Colour Photographs. Then the historical timeline of European photobooks continues along mostly in black and white until 1978 and the publication of Kodachrome? Are there no other landmark books between 1948 and 1978 that could also act as balance to the historical dominance of Eggleston’s color?

Being that I approach most photography, my own and that of others, knowingly comfortable to be trapped within the labyrinth of illusion, aesthetics, style, and photography as the language of metaphor — Kodachrome is a deck stacked against me. It stands as the antithesis to my own practice where the visual component compels you to explore the relationship to the image before you.

Luigi Ghirri’s Kodachrome was reissued by MACK in November, 2012. Twenty-five vintage color prints from the series were recently on view at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.

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Name- Meral Güler
Age-  A girl never tells…
Where are you from?- London, England. I currently live in Los Angeles, USA
Your equipment- My Leica M6 was recently stolen from me In London. For now, I use a borrowed 35 but I have always wanted to shoot a series with a Mamiya 6. Can anyone lend me one?
Influences and photographers you like:- I am influenced by literature and films from the fifties and sixties. I am captivated by the works of Mark Cohen, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Anna Fox, Chris Killip, Saul Leiter, Fernando Maquiera and Pascal Felloneau.
A little about you- I see myself as a visual storyteller, capturing the narrative and irony of everyday life around me. I made Documentaries Features in England and have been photographer since 2009.

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ALL PHOTOS BY MERAL GÜLER

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Among a group who legitimized color as a serious medium for art photographers in the 1970s and 1980s, Joel Sternfeld first came to prominence in 1987 with the publication of American Prospects. The book, which featured pictures taken on a series of road trips across the country, subtly documented underlying socioeconomic issues in America with irony and humor. Both poignant and formally beautiful, the images are now considered one of the most important works from the period, and the tome a landmark contribution to the history of American photography. American Prospects was the first of a number of highly regarded and influential books by Sternfeld, which also includes On This Site and Stranger Passing. And though First Pictures, published this month by Steidl, is the newest by the photographer, the book actually pays tribute to Sternfeld’s beginnings.

The book is comprised of Sternfeld’s formative work—mostly unseen until now—and brings further understanding and context to his oeuvre. Featuring Sternfeld’s images from 1971—when he first started taking color pictures — to 1980, First Pictures is broken down into four series: Nags Head, a North Carolina beach community; Rush Hour, street photography taken outside the Macy’s in New York City, At the Mall, taken in New Jersey and most interestingly, Happy Anniversary Sweetie Face, a disparate series of images taken during road trips across America, which serves as a direct precedent to American Prospects. At the time, Sternfeld was working with kodachrome and a 35mm camera rather than the 10×8 format that he would later use to fine tune his aesthetic. The book showcases work that would secure Sternfeld the first of two Guggenheim photography awards and lay the foundation for American Prospects as well as the work that followed. While some images are indicative of Sternfeld’s trademark style —a pastel color palette, compositions that place seemingly insignificant objects in the landscape to reflect a sometimes ironic, cynical or tragic situation, and a socially conscious eye—other photographs seem to relate more formally to the work of other color photographers such as William Eggleston or Helen Levitt.

First Pictures will be a fitting companion to writer and curator Sally Eauclaire’s three book series on color photography: New Color PhotographyAmerican Independents and  New Color New Work, published in the early 1980s, each of which placed Sternfeld’s images directly alongside that of other pioneers in color, including Steven Shore, Joel Meyerowitz and Eggleston. First Pictures goes back a little further and reveals how Sternfeld consciously reacted against the influence of some of his contemporaries—particularly Egglestone and his “poetic snapshots”—in order to create his own voice in color photography through narrative photographs that, individual and in sequence, speak not words or even phrases, but sentences, paragraphs and stories.

First Pictures, published by Steidl, is available now. An accompanying exhibition will be on display at Luhring Augustine gallery in New York from Jan. 7-Feb. 4 2012.

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Name- V.D. (Vincent Delbrouck)
Age- 35
Where are you from?- I am from Brussels (Belgium), but I don’t feel rooted here. Maybe I lived somewhere else in a previous life...a tropical place. There, this is my home and my light. I have been living one year in Nepal from 2009-2010. Now, I am back in the old and grey Europe (living in the countryside), but I hope not for long.
Your equipment- I used to work with a Rollei Afm 35 point and shoot film camera and a Polaroid (and sketchbooks, permanent markers, painting, tape,...) and I changed for a Leica Minilux 35mm (and small notebooks). I love film.
Influences and photographers you like- Film directors : Krzysztof Kieślowski, Pedro Almodovar, Michelangelo Antonioni, Kim Ki-duk, Anh Hung Tran,... Writers (I love especially short stories) : Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Reinaldo Arenas, Ernest Hemingway, John Fante, Fernando Pessoa, Wendy Guerra, Marguerite Duras, Aimé Césaire, Duong Thu Huong, Junot Diaz... Photographers : (I started with Raymond Depardon, and other Magnum photographers), William Eggleston, Malick Sidibe, Robert Frank (from Mabou period), Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Mark Borthwick, Bertien Van Manen, JH Engström, Arno Nollen, Ed Templeton, G.P. Fieret, Takashi Homma, Araki, Masao Yamamoto, Paul Graham, Boris Mikhailov,...(and other friends photographers) Painters : Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Andō Hiroshige,... Jonathan Meese. Wise men : Ajahn Chah, Krishnamurti, Chögyam Trungpa,... Places : Centro Habana, Kathmandu, Lower Mustang, Gokarna, Veracruz,...
Some of the photographers I love today : Juan Carlos Alom, Viviane Sassen, Seba Kurtis, Chris Shaw, André Cépéda,...
A little about you- I am currently working on a new book about experience in Nepal and I am also studying and practicing shiatsu.
vincentdelbrouck.be 

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ALL PHOTOS BY VINCENT DELBROUCK

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