Comments/Context: While the pairing of Diane Arbus and William Eggleston has some obvious rock star marketing appeal, I'd like to think that of all the works that could have been chosen to juxtapose with new pictures by Eggleston, the selection of Arbus' images without people (review here) is a thoughtful reminder of one of things that has been happening in Eggleston's work in recent years - the people have been disappearing.
I think there are several important trends to be discovered in Eggleston's work of the past decade, all on display in this fine exhibit:
- Across the board, there is less story and/or narrative to be discerned; with one exception (a frontal head shot), there are virtually no portraits or interactive human scenes in this show. There are no back stories or tall tales to be imagined or puzzled out, and the environment is no longer completely rooted in the American South.
- The compositions are becoming altogether more fragmented and painterly. While the images are still representational (with recognizable objects as subjects), the works oscillate back and forth between simple documentation of "things" and purer aesthetic relationships of form and color. These visual interconnections of space, texture and pigment occur in ways that are wholly unrelated to the content or context of the subject matter. I hesitate to take the easy way out and call the works "abstract", as I think that misses the intensity of the back and forth movement between simple recognition and more complex color theory.
- The prints are now digital, and are getting bigger. This is exposing some minor flaws in the technical aspects of Eggleston's focus and printing; the icebox image is particularly grainy and digitally pixelated.
- Soapy water on a car windshield becomes a cosmic brew of blue, green, and purple.
- A red dumpster sits in the alley behind an orange building with a red door; the content dissolves and the image becomes a study in angles and hues.
- A table with a chaotic jumble of kitchy dated lamps is further complicated by the arcs of orange and blue hula hoops stored underneath and a dark black shadow that carves its way across the upper left corner.
While each image in this show can hold your interest intellectually, not every one is equally moving or memorable; there is a hit or miss quality to the work that left me repeatedly circling back to the those successful pictures that vibrated with more lyrical power. But even with a little unevenness, there are plenty of examples of Eggleston at his best on view here, taking seeming casual glances at the mundane and turning them into something spectacular.
- Eggleston Trust (here)
- Review: Guardian (here)
- Democratic Camera @Whitney, 2008, DLK COLLECTION review (here)
- Paris, 2009, DLK COLLECTION review (here)