William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked

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WILLIAM EGGLESTON: ANOINTING THE OVERLOOKED
OPENS AT FRIST CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS JANUARY 21, 2011

Exhibition Transforms Ordinary Moments into Indelible Images

NASHVILLE, TENN.—(December 1, 2010)— William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked, an exhibition bringing together recent works and iconic photographs by one of today’s most renowned photographers, William Eggleston, opens in the Upper Level Gallery of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts Jan. 21, 2011, and remains on view through May 1, 2011.

The exhibition, originated by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, includes 50 photographs by the Memphis, Tenn., resident who is one of the most influential artists of his generation.  Included in the exhibition are selections from the permanent collection of the Memphis Brooks Museum, Cheim and Read Gallery, New York, with the assistance of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, and the David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, ephemera objects and the continuous screening of the renowned 2007 documentary By the Ways: A Journey with William Eggleston, directed by Vincent Gérard and Cédric Laty.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Frist Center will also present a film series, “The Strangeness of the Ordinary,” featuring films by David Lynch, Gus Van Sant and Sofia Coppola, directors who have been influenced by Eggleston’s aesthetic innovations.

William Eggleston was a key figure in legitimizing color photography as an artistic medium.  By not censoring, rarely editing, and photographing the seemingly forgettable, Eggleston reminds audiences of the inherent democratic uses of photography and our widespread access to it.

“What distinguishes Eggleston as an artist is his uncanny ability to capture everyday scenes or objects without slipping into sentimentality or nostalgia,” says Dr. Susan Edwards, Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Center. “His photographs are familiar yet nonspecific, compelling in their simplicity and intriguing by virtue of their understatement.”

Born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1939 at the end of the Great Depression, Eggleston spent most of his formative years moving back and forth between Tennessee and Mississippi.  As a child, Eggleston was interested in painting and audio technology. Since turning to photography, he has been a remarkable chronicler of a culture that was being transformed by racial integration, air conditioning, strip malls, shopping carts and fast-food chain restaurants. While rooted in a specific place and time, Eggleston’s depictions of these transformations have a universal resonance that continues today, when our realities continue to show themselves to be in a constant state of flux.

Although he attended Vanderbilt University, Delta State College and the University of Mississippi, Eggleston never received a college degree. However, it was during this time that his interest in photography took root. Eggleston was given a Leica camera by a friend at Vanderbilt. While studying art at Ole Miss, he was introduced to abstract expressionism by a visiting New York painter, Tom Young.

In 1976, Eggleston exhibited his works in the first solo exhibition of color photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.  Color Photographs by William Eggleston, and its accompanying publication, William Eggleston’s Guide (after the Michelin Guide), caused something of a sensation among museum visitors and critics who found Eggleston’s use of color garish and his seemingly offhand approach antithetical to their expectations of art photography, which at the time was dominated by black and white images, printed in darkrooms as a sign of authorship and authenticity. 

Colors in Eggleston’s early prints were intensified by the dye-transfer process, a printing technique developed by Kodak in the 1940s in which a succession of three color separations produces richly saturated and color-stable prints.  Once prevalent in advertising and fashion photography, Kodak’s dye-transfer technique allowed the artist to not only paint or direct the intensity of color in his prints, but also to mingle art and commerce.

Eggleston has frequently produced groups of photographs as cohesive units, either as a series made at a specific site for a project or for a commission.  Included in Anointing the Overlooked are seven photographs reproduced in William Eggleston’s Guide, among them the iconic Memphis (Tricycle) (ca. 1971). Selections from two series of the early 1980s, The Southern Suite and Troubled Waters, are also included in the exhibition. Finally, a large group of rarely seen photographs made after 2000 reveals Eggleston’s continued interest in showing the everyday in a new light. These later works amplify the sharp colors and limpid atmospheres of his earlier imagery, while showing Eggleston as an artist who continues to expand his startling vision. Accompanying the exhibition will be a selection of album and compact disk covers featuring Eggleston’s imagery. These were created for various musicians—Alex Chilton, Spoon, Big Star, Chuck Prophet, Silver Jews, Primal Scream, Christopher Idylls, Joanna Newsom, and The Derek Trucks Band. 

William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked demonstrates that Eggleston, most celebrated for his photographs of the American South, is equally at ease across the country and around the world. Eggleston’s motivation for making color photography was simple and decidedly unpretentious. He wanted to see a lot of things in color because the world is in color. Unlike many photographers who take hundreds of photographs of a subject in order to achieve the “perfect” image, Eggleston is an artist with personal discipline who makes “one picture of one thing.” That picture may be a sign by the side of the road or just the side of the road. A person nicely dressed or just a dress.

“Eggleston reminds us not to take anything for granted” Dr. Edwards concludes. “His photographs trigger connections, conjure memories and remind us always to check under the bed before going to sleep.”

Exhibition Credit

William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked is organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and was made possible by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, which has lent generously from its permanent collection. We also acknowledge the cooperation of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, Cheim and Read Gallery, New York, and the David Lusk Gallery, Memphis.

Sponsors

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Related Public Programs

Friday, January 28 “The Strangeness of the Ordinary” Film Series:
7:00 p.m. Blue Velvet
Auditorium
Free.  Seating is first come, first served.

William Eggleston’s distinctive aesthetic has been credited with inspiring a generation of American filmmakers. Join us for a three-part film series highlighting directors David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, and Sofia Coppola, who all borrowed heavily from Eggleston’s aesthetic to construct films that illustrate the strangeness of ordinary America.

Artist and director David Lynch has described Blue Velvet as “a film about things that are hidden—within a small city and within people.” The film offers a chilling and evocative glimpse into the surrealism of “ordinary” suburban life. With its heavily saturated colors and focus on the strangeness of seemingly mundane, Blue Velvet has been called an homage to William Eggleston, whose themes and aesthetics serve as some of Lynch’s major influences.

The film, which earned David Lynch an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, has achieved cult status and critical acclaim since its 1986 release. Stars Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, and Dennis Hopper. Directed by David Lynch, 1986. 120 minutes. 35mm. Rated R.

Thursday, February 3 Artist’s Forum: Caroline Allison
6:30 p.m.
Meet at information desk
Free with purchase of gallery admission

This month’s Artist’s Forum takes on a new twist by taking place in the exhibition William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked. Nashville-based photographer Caroline Allison will discuss her work and how William Eggleston, among other artists, has influenced her aesthetic.

Caroline Allison was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently lives in Nashville. She received her BA from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of Art, Chicago Cultural Center, and Momentum Art in Berlin. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Apex Art, Lehmann Maupin, and Jack the Pelican in New York. She was the recipient of a Bronx Museum AIM fellowship and was artist in residence for the Amt fur Wissenschaft und Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2009 she represented Tennessee in The 50 States Project, an online exhibition organized by British curator Stuart Pilkington, and was a 2010 nominee for the Baum Foundation Award.

Friday, February 4 “The Strangeness of the Ordinary” Film Series:
7:00 p.m. Drugstore Cowboy
Auditorium
Free

William Eggleston’s distinctive aesthetic has been credited with inspiring a generation of American filmmakers. Join us for a three-part film series highlighting directors David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, and Sofia Coppola, who all borrowed heavily from Eggleston’s aesthetic to construct films that illustrate the strangeness of ordinary America.

With a vivid eye for the complexity of seemingly simple people and situations, Van Sant is one of the most conspicuous in a line of filmmakers who have been influenced by Eggleston’s aesthetic. In Drugstore Cowboy, his first commercial success, Van Sant provides a nuanced look at the harsh, cyclical, and strangely evocative world of prescription drug addicts.

Drugstore Cowboy focuses on a small band of addicts in 1970s Portland, who get their fixes by robbing pharmacies for prescription medications. The group’s leader, Bob, who is a neurotic but charismatic man with a long list of bizarre superstitions, presents a simultaneously compelling and repulsive picture of the humanity—and the lack of it—of addicts and those struggling to recover. Expertly blending humor and drama with the grittiness of an over-saturated documentary, Drugstore Cowboy reminds viewers of the absurdness of everyday reality and the reality of the seemingly absurd.  Directed by Gus Van Sant, 1989. 102 minutes. Rated R.

Friday, February 11 “The Strangeness of the Ordinary” Film Series:
7:00 p.m. The Virgin Suicides
Auditorium
Free

Director Sofia Coppola has won enthusiastic praise for the rich aesthetic quality of her films, which highlight the beautiful strangeness of everyday existence. In her first feature film, The Virgin Suicides, Coppola explores the unexpected reality lurking behind a seemingly idyllic suburban community in the 1970s. Coppola has publicly stated that the photography of William Eggleston served as a major inspiration for the film. Speaking of Eggleston at the film’s release, Coppola said, “It was the beauty of banal details that was inspirational.”

The Virgin Suicides tells the story of the tragically beautiful Lisbon sisters through the eyes of the neighborhood boys who watch them from afar. After Cecilia Lisbon commits suicide, the family’s strangeness becomes increasingly apparent as the girls’ parents try to isolate and protect their remaining daughters, with disastrous results. Still haunted by the sleepy tragedy of the Lisbon sisters, the boys come together twenty years later to tell their story. Starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett. Directed by Sofia Coppola, 2000. 97 minutes. 35mm. Rated R.

Friday, February 25 ARTini: William Eggleston: Anointing the
7:00 p.m. Overlooked
Meet at information desk
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Join Stefanie Gerber Darr, educator for public programs at the Frist Center, as she leads an informal conversation about photographer William Eggleston’s work. Complete your evening by relaxing in the Grand Lobby with beverages from the café, including special ARTinis, and visiting with friends.

ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.

Tuesday, March 1 ARTini: William Eggleston: Anointing the
12:00 p.m. Overlooked
Meet at information desk
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Are you curious about art? Do you want to learn more about the content and concepts behind an artist’s work? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the ARTini program is for you! ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.

Join Stefanie Gerber Darr, educator for public programs at the Frist Center, as she leads an informal conversation about photographer William Eggleston’s work. Complete your visit with stop in the café or gift store

About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID.  College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5–9 p.m.  Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247.The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our Web site at http://www.fristcenter.org.

 

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