The National Portrait Gallery has sourced, procured and rescued over 100 works by the American photographer William Eggleston. Often referred to as the father of colour photography, his richly hued images of everyday life in 1960s America have inspired filmmakers such as David Lynch and Sofia Coppola.
This is the first major exhibition of Eggleston’s photographs in London since 2002 and the most comprehensive of his portraits, which feature friends, musicians, actors and rarely seen images of Eggleston’s own relations. It provides a unique window on the artist’s home life, allowing visitors to see how public and private portraiture came together in Eggleston’s work. It also reveals, for the first time, the identities of many sitters who have until now remained anonymous.
Highlights include a previously unseen image of The Clash frontman Joe Strummer and a never-before exhibited portrait of the actor and photographer Dennis Hopper. There is also a monumental, five foot wide print of the legendary photographs of the artist’s uncle, Adyn Schuyler Senior, with his assistant Jasper Staples in Cassidy Bayou, Mississippi and Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi from the landmark book Eggleston’s Guide (1976).
Curator Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery says, ‘Few photographers alive today have had such a profound influence on the way photographs are made and seen as William Eggleston. His pictures are as fresh and exciting as they were when they first grabbed the public’s attention in the 1970s. There is nothing quite like the colour in an Eggleston photograph – radiant in their beauty, that get deep under the skin and linger in the imagination.’
Combining well-known works with others previously unseen, this exhibition looks at one of photography’s most compelling practitioners from a new perspective.