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Jim Chinn
08-03-2006, 07:28 AM
I thought I would post an image from the photographer who is considered in most art circles as the person who put color photography into the realm of fine art.

This is simply titled Mississippi (no date given) although similar work of his is from the 60s.
For those less familiar with is work here is a link to the Getty Museum site that has a number of his images.http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1540

Pinholemaster
08-03-2006, 07:46 AM
First rule of thumb - never photograph someone on a sofa. HA!

Now that's a southern photograph!

Markok765
08-03-2006, 07:48 AM
looks like an family snapshot of someone.

Lee Shively
08-03-2006, 07:50 AM
I think Eggleston said his pictures from this period were influenced by the design of the Confederate flag--a centered subject with everything moving toward the corners of the frame. If he wasn't pulling our leg with this statement, this is a good example of that.

Elliott Erwitt coined the phrase "anti-photograph" and this certainly goes against the grain of what is considered a typical good photograph. It's centered, distorted and everything in it is fighting to get your attention. Mostly, it's an interesting photograph. I want to know who this person is, where this place is located and, because no information is given about the picture, that makes it that much more appealing for me.

Because I'm from the South too, I've seen this type of scene before. So there is some familiarity in this photograph. Even though I don't know specifics, I can make up my own story and that makes it a comfortable photograph. All of Eggleston's photographs are comfortable for me.

catem
08-03-2006, 08:02 AM
I'm a great fan of Eggleston's work, this one no exception.

Cate

naturephoto1
08-03-2006, 08:12 AM
I do not like the clash of colors of the dress and the sofa. Additionally, I do not like the composition. The woman basically runs right down the center for almost the width of the image and splits the photo into 2 halves.

Rich

catem
08-03-2006, 08:21 AM
I do not like the clash of colors of the dress and the sofa. Additionally, I do not like the composition. The woman basically runs right down the center for almost the width of the image and splits the photo into 2 halves.

Rich
But isn't the whole photograph in a way about 'lack of balance'. Though in fact I DO find it works well compositionally, it is dynamic and draws your attention to the rickety fence, and the ancient sofa, the woman herself.

It's true that what it isn't, is neat and ordinary...
Cate

naturephoto1
08-03-2006, 08:34 AM
But isn't the whole photograph in a way about 'lack of balance'. Though in fact I DO find it works well compositionally, it is dynamic and draws your attention to the rickety fence, and the ancient sofa, the woman herself.

It's true that what it isn't, is neat and ordinary...
Cate

Cate,

I still do not like it. The woman herself might be interesting. Generally, for full length figure work of people, I personally prefer verticals since people tend to be vertical. Additionally, you may like the rickety fence. I find it distracting and 3 rungs appears to "grow" out of the top and sides of the woman's head. Additionally, as I stated, I find the woman running down the center for almost the width of the image unappealing to me.

No it is not orderly, I just am of the opinion that the image could have been taken to make the whole more interesting.

Rich

SuzanneR
08-03-2006, 08:44 AM
The more I look at it, the more I like it. It's not so much a portrait as a study in textures. Her dress against the couch, and the manmade colors of the fabrics against that incredibly beautiful stone floor and the natural colors of the leaves.

Phew... he is subtle that Eggleston. Works for me... I keep coming back for more!

I'm enjoying these threads, Jim!

reellis67
08-03-2006, 08:50 AM
Perhaps if I knew about his intent it would do more for me, but as it stands, without any real background information, this does nothing for me. The subject could have some social importance but if so, it is not apparent to me at first glance, so I am left to wonder what that importance could be. She appears thin, and the setting looks unkempt - perhaps she is poor - but apparently has enough money to buy cigarettes. I can't seem to get enough information without more context...

The composition keeps my eye in the picture, with the edges of the sofa bounding the right and left sides, and the trellis and rocks balancing out and bounding the top and bottom, but the colors don't convey anything to me. There are some interesting elements, like the repetition of the grid pattern in the trellis and the rocks, but not enough to give me a lot of feeling. Is it supposed to be part of a larger whole? Is it a documentary photo that requires some understanding of the circumstances? I would say that overall I am not moved by it, but there are elements that draw me in somewhat and it leaves me wanting to know what the importance of this shot is.

- Randy

lee
08-03-2006, 08:53 AM
I found this on Wikipedia and I think it helps me understand Eggleston's work.

from Wikipedia,

It may help to compare Eggleston's work to the work of another illustrious Southerner, William Faulkner, who also grew up in, and drew his subject matter from, the Mississippi Delta region that is the subject matter of much of Eggleston's art. Both Eggleston and Faulkner drew upon insights of the European and American avant-gardes to help them explore their Southern environs in new and surprising ways. As the writer Willie Morris wrote, Eggleston's "depiction of the rural Southern countryside speaks eloquently of the fictional world of Faulkner and, not coincidentally, the shared experience of almost every Southerner. Oftentimes lurid, always lyrical, his stark realism resonates with the language and tone of Faulkner's greatest mythic cosmos of Yoknapatawpha County .... The work of Bill Eggleston would have pleased Bill Faulkner ... immensely." Eggleston seemed to acknowledge the affinity between himself and Faulkner with the publication of his book, Faulkner's Mississippi, in 1990.

lee\c

lee
08-03-2006, 09:01 AM
I also dont think the problems a lot of people see with the photos (compositon color the like) apply here. This is not about the rules of photography it is about art. It is not about the rules of Art it is about solving art issues. Eggleson has shown us the banal world as the banal world. Some of the photo artists have moved on to discover new ways to practice their art and craft.

lee\c

Jim Chinn
08-03-2006, 09:07 AM
Thanks Lee for posting that. I was going to link to it and forgot.

Personally I like Eggleston a lot. To me he is kind of the Harry Callahan of color photography. Color does not need to be all about purple mountain ranges and syrupy sunsets. some of the most intriguing images for color abound in the everyday.

There are a lot of images of his on the Getty site, probably some more recognizable then this one, but I was struck by the combination of the pattern of the couch and the dress and the very stiff, pose and of course the ubiquitous cigarette.

One side of my family is from Kentucky and southern Missouri. When looking at this I was thinking that IIRC every grandma or older aunt looked just like this when I visited them as a kid.

If anyone is familiar with the work of Alec Soth (Sleeping by the Mississippi and Niagra) you recognize a definite lineage from Eggleston.

copake_ham
08-03-2006, 09:08 AM
The more I look at it, the more I like it. It's not so much a portrait as a study in textures. Her dress against the couch, and the manmade colors of the fabrics against that incredibly beautiful stone floor and the natural colors of the leaves.

Phew... he is subtle that Eggleston. Works for me... I keep coming back for more!

I'm enjoying these threads, Jim!

These are some of the things that caputred my eye too.

Also, the juxtaposition of a "new" colorful sofa cushion on an old faded white "glider". The similar juxtaposition of the bright "fresh" flowers on the cushion versus the dried leaves on the ground.

Also, note that cigarette in her hand complements the white on the glider and trellis....

catem
08-03-2006, 09:12 AM
Cate,

I still do not like it.

Rich
Of course, you don't have to like it. :D No-one HAS to like anything.

But I like it - it's so full of the woman and her life.

(I agree with Suzanne - These threads are becoming REALLY addictive - they're great!)
Cate

reellis67
08-03-2006, 09:15 AM
I grew up in Kentucky, and like what Jim stated above, this scene commonplace to my eye - so much so that it doesn't even register so I default to looking for elements that I am familiar with, like line, form, etc. To someone with different expectations and experiences, this might appear more striking, but it seems plain to me. I don't dislike it because it doesn't use all of the familiar elements that others use in their art, but I don't overly like it either because it looks like the pictures that I took when I was a kid growing up. I have read about 'snapshot ethic', but at this point it doesn't really move me as much as the work of some other photographers. Having said that, I don't discount his work as poor, but rather simply as something that doesn't do much for me at this point in my life.

- Randy

Jim Chinn
08-03-2006, 09:24 AM
I grew up in Kentucky, and like what Jim stated above, this scene commonplace to my eye - so much so that it doesn't even register so I default to looking for elements that I am familiar with, like line, form, etc. To someone with different expectations and experiences, this might appear more striking, but it seems plain to me. I don't dislike it because it doesn't use all of the familiar elements that others use in their art, but I don't overly like it either because it looks like the pictures that I took when I was a kid growing up. I have read about 'snapshot ethic', but at this point it doesn't really move me as much as the work of some other photographers. Having said that, I don't discount his work as poor, but rather simply as something that doesn't do much for me at this point in my life.


Interesting - RandyRandy,

Interesting post. At one time I did dismiss work like his as to simple and banal (the snapshot ethic as you so aptly put it). But maybe as I get older or just more interested in color work I find it more and more interesting. I guess maybe for this particular image it is more about the textures and variations as Suzanne pointed out.

Lee Shively
08-03-2006, 09:28 AM
In the book "The Democratic Forest" (with words by another fine Southern writer, Eudora Welty), Eggleston said something to the effect that he is at war with the obvious. I take that to mean that the obvious way to make a photograph is the opposite of his intentions.

Michel Hardy-Vallée
08-03-2006, 09:31 AM
I think for me it's the lack of anything that stands out that is the problem. I've looked at the other Eggleston photos on the Getty page and they are much more interesting. Like the Stephen Shore photo posted a while ago, the problem with such pictures, in my opinion, is that they function against a specific background (like ordinary words suddenly taking violent meanings in precise contexts). It was probably a bold statement to put such an "ordinary" photo in a gallery a while ago.

Come to think of it, there is one thing that attracts my attention: it's too perfectly ordinary. Most of the time family snapshots have a flaw that exudes some dynamism: overexposure, blur, expressions, bad framing, etc. Here, all these "defects" are carefully ironed out: the light is perfect, no blur, proportionate framing, etc.

It's more interesting now, in a very subtle way, though, but more than I thought at first sight...

naturephoto1
08-03-2006, 09:36 AM
I think for me it's the lack of anything that stands out that is the problem. I've looked at the other Eggleston photos on the Getty page and they are much more interesting. Like the Stephen Shore photo posted a while ago, the problem with such pictures, in my opinion, is that they function against a specific background (like ordinary words suddenly taking violent meanings in precise contexts). It was probably a bold statement to put such an "ordinary" photo in a gallery a while ago.

Come to think of it, there is one thing that attracts my attention: it's too perfectly ordinary. Most of the time family snapshots have a flaw that exudes some dynamism: overexposure, blur, expressions, bad framing, etc. Here, all these "defects" are carefully ironed out: the light is perfect, no blur, proportionate framing, etc.

It's more interesting now, in a very subtle way, though, but more than I thought at first sight...

Michael,

I would consider this to be a flaw as I stated above: 3 rungs of the fence appear to "grow" out of the top and sides of the woman's head.

Rich