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A quintessentially American photographer, William Joseph Eggleston, Jr. was born in 1939 in Memphis, TN. His straight-forward depictions of everyday objects and scenes were noted for their vivid colors, precise composition, and evocative allure. His work was credited with helping establish color photography in the late 20th century as a legitimate artistic medium. After settling in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1964, Eggleston began to experiment with color photography.  Over the next decade, he produced thousands of photographs, focusing on ordinary Americans and the landscapes, structures, and other materials of their environs. Because of the geographic milieu in which Eggleston often worked, his photographs were sometimes characterized as reflections on the South, though he pointedly resisted such interpretations, claiming an interest in his subjects chiefly for their physical and formal qualities rather than for any broader significance.


Having been granted a Guggenheim fellowship in 1974, Eggleston received an additional career boost two years later with a solo exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. He soon took on various commissioned projects, which resulted in series set in, among other locations, U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia (1976), and Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis (1983–84). By the turn of the 21st century, the skepticism that had initially greeted Eggleston’s work had largely dissipated, and the retrospective William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Videos, 1961–2008, which originated in 2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, solidified his reputation as a skilled innovator. For his contributions to photography, he’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Getty Images Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 1998 and a Sony World Photography Award in 2013. 

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