William Eggleston: The Democratic Forest
Text by Alexander Nemerov
Over the course of nearly six decades, William Eggleston—often referred to as the “father of color photography”—has established a singular pictorial style that deftly combines vernacular subject matter with an innate and sophisticated understanding of color, form, and composition.
Eggleston has said, “I am at war with the obvious.” His photographs transform the ordinary into distinctive, poetic images that eschew fixed meaning. Though criticized at the time, his now legendary 1976 solo exhibition, organized by the visionary curator John Szarkowski at The Museum of Modern Art, New York—the first presentation of color photography at the museum—heralded an important moment in the medium's acceptance within the art-historical canon and solidified Eggleston's position in the pantheon of the greats alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans.
Published on the occasion of David Zwirner's New York exhibition of selections from The Democratic Forest in the fall of 2016, this new catalogue highlights over sixty exceptional images from Eggleston's epic project. His photography is “democratic” in its resistance to hierarchy where, as noted by the artist, “no particular subject is more or less important than another.”
Featuring original scholarship by Alexander Nemerov, this notable presentation of The Democratic Forest provides historical context for a monumental body of work, while offering newcomers a foothold in Eggleston\s photographic practice.
Publisher: David Zwirner Books | Steidl
Artists: William Eggleston
Contributors: Alexander Nemerov
Designer: Katy Homans
Printer: Steidl, Göttingen, Germany
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 11 3/4 x 12 1/4 in (29.8 x 31.1 cm)
Reproductions: 73 color
Retail: $55 | £38 | €52
William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in the Mississippi Delta. He has lived in Memphis for the majority of his life. Since the 1970s, Eggleston’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide and work by the artist is held in major international museums. In 1975, he received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and since then has been the recipient of numerous notable awards, including the University of Memphis Distinguished Achievement Award (1996); Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1998); International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement (2004); Getty Images Lifetime Achievement Award (2004); and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, République Française (Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic) (2016).
Alexander Nemerov is department chair and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. Prior to joining Stanford, he was a professor of art history and American studies at Yale University. He has published several books and articles pertaining to the culture of American art dating from the eighteenth century to the 1970s. His writing often analyzes fiction and poetry alongside works of visual art.