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William Eggleston: The Democratic Forest

Selected Works

Over the course of nearly six decades, William Eggleston—often referred to as the “father of color photography”—has established a singular pictorial style that deftly combines vernacular subject matter with an innate and sophisticated understanding of color, form, and composition. 

Eggleston has said, “I am at war with the obvious.” His photographs transform the ordinary into distinctive, poetic images that eschew fixed meaning. Though criticized at the time, his now legendary 1976 solo exhibition, organized by the visionary curator John Szarkowski at The Museum of Modern Art, New York—the first presentation of color photography at the museum—heralded an important moment in the medium's acceptance within the art-historical canon and solidified Eggleston's position in the pantheon of the greats alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans.

Published on the occasion of David Zwirner's New York exhibition of selections from The Democratic Forest in the fall of 2016, this new catalogue highlights over sixty exceptional images from Eggleston's epic project. His photography is “democratic” in its resistance to hierarchy where, as noted by the artist, “no particular subject is more or less important than another.”

Featuring original scholarship by Alexander Nemerov, this notable presentation of The Democratic Forest provides historical context for a monumental body of work, while offering newcomers a foothold in Eggleston's photographic practice.

“...not to be missed.”

– Prudence Peiffer, ARTFORUM

“Pioneering an approach to the photograph as meticulous as it is seemingly effortless, Eggleston’s work has charted a path and progression through both his own chosen craft and the American landscape.”

– D. Creahan, Art Observed

“...for all the changes to the working class, Eggleston’s unbiased and unencumbered photographic vision of the country has stayed so fixedly relevant, and few others have come close to touching him.”

– Alexandra Pechman, W Magazine

“More than any other project by Eggleston, these photographs deliver his aesthetic, which, as the title gives away, is also a philosophy of democracy: the power of the ordinary, the beauty of contingency, the aim of a universalist view.”

– Prudence Peiffer, BOOKFORUM

More books from this author: Alexander Nemerov