Monday, 20 July 2009

American Beauty - the world of William Eggleston

"Both the opening of Lynch's Blue Velvet and Van Sant's Elephant are homages to Eggleston, the first in its use of saturated colour to highlight the surrealism of small-town America, the second a shot of a blue sky straight out of Eggleston's Wedgwood Blue series, where he pointed the camera directly up at the wispy clouds.

'It was the beauty of banal details that was inspirational,' Coppola said of Eggleston's influence on her debut feature, The Virgin Suicides, in 1999, and it is this ability to record, and illuminate, the mundane that is his stock in trade.

His most famous photograph, entitled Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973, but always referred to as The Red Ceiling, is of a bare light bulb from a crimson ceiling, three white cables snaking across the glossy surface like arteries. It is taken from an angle that suggests he may have stood on a chair, or simply held the camera above his head. In its apparent casualness, it is emblematic of Eggleston's art, being both ordinary and loaded with meaning, utterly simple and yet endlessly complex. A mundane image, maybe, yet one that carries within it some indefinable sense of menace. 'It is so powerful,' he once said, 'that I have never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction. When you look at the dye transfer print, it's like red blood that's wet on the wall. It shocks you every time."

(From The Observer interview)