The Daily Beast’s Alice Cavanaugh speaks with famed Memphis photographer William Eggleston on the latest book of his photographs, Chromes, which showcases 364 images selected from a catalogue of thousands of transparencies housed in the Eggleston Artistic Trust in Memphis. Most of these images have never been seen before.
Chromes, says Cavanaugh, documents a very important era of Eggleston’s career: a time from 1969 to 1974 when he started experimenting with composition and color film. “The main film I used is called Kodachromes, which is why the book is called Chromes,” Eggleston told Cavanaugh. “At that time the negative (well, it was later improved tremendously) but at that time the best color was with chromes, not negatives.” The Daily Best includes a brief gallery of five of the 364 images in Chromes.
Readers of my blog know I’m a recovering Kodachrome addict myself. I’m also a fan of Eggleston’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed the Eggleston exhibition a year ago at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Though I must admit I’m somewhat of a conflicted fan because, while some of his images (like this one) really capture the South in a quietly spectacular way, others just look like snapshots to me (which, in fact, they are), and not particularly great snapshots.
Here’s one of the images from Chromes:
I like it. But is it really art?
Here’s an image I shot a few months ago with my iPhone:
I like it, too. But I wouldn’t claim it is art. Slap Eggleston’s name on it, though, and it would be worth a small fortune.
If you want the Eggleston book, it’ll cost you:
Here’s how Amazon describes the book: “Chromes is an edit of more than 5,000 Kodachromes and Ektachromes taken from ten chronologically ordered binders found in a safe in the Eggleston Artistc Trust. This archive had once been used by John Szarkowski who selected the forty-eight images printed in Eggleston’s seminal book William Eggleston’s Guide, while the rest of the archive has remained almost entirely unpublished. This book presents Eggleston’s early Memphis imagery, his testing of colour and compositional strategies, and the development towards the ‘poetic snapshot’. In short, Chromes shows a master in the making.”