American, born 1939
Frosty freezer shelves frame this impromptu still life. Boxes of tater tots and beef pies are jumbled against cartons of ice cream and trays of ice cubes. But the heightened drama of dye-transfer color printing transforms these unlikely subjects into intriguing geometric forms and subtle hints to their owner’s habits and identity.
A key figure in the rise of color photography as fine art, William Eggleston encourages viewers to find the quiet beauty in mundane scenes and nondescript objects. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Sumner, Mississippi, Eggleston offers a uniquely intimate and unstaged view of the American South. He photographs everyday subject matter, documenting bleak light bulbs, bare tabletops, and sideways glances. The resulting images are effortlessly composed yet geometrically complex, challenging the viewer to look more closely at commonly ignored subjects.
As exemplified in this image, the vibrant and expressive colors in Eggleston’s prints are not simply descriptive or decorative but form an integral component of the photograph. In 1976, his work was featured in the first exhibition of color photography at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.