William Eggleston at the Whitney

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Untitled (St. Simons Island, Georgia), 1978/Whitney Museum of American Art © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Untitled (St. Simons Island, Georgia), 1978/Whitney Museum of American Art © Eggleston Artistic Trust

His museum debut, in 1976, was a doozy. The New York Times called it “the most hated show of the year.” Now he’s got old master status. And he should. In the 60s, Eggleston was one of that small number of photographers — Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus — who reinvented the whole idea of what a picture was supposed to look like. And he did it in color, which wasn’t serious photographers were supposed to work in.

Next week the Whitney opens a big Eggleston retrospective. A few weeks ago I went down to Memphis to visit him in his native surroundings. I started posting excerpts from that conversation yesterday and I’ll continue with those next week. I also wrote about him in the new issue of Time. This is what I said.

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