William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Dye transfer print; 18 7/16 x 12 3/4 in. (46.9 x 32.4 cm)
Gift of Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt, 1991 (1991.1271)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
One of the first photographers whose images in color were accepted as successful works of art, Eggleston made his debut in 1976 at the Museum of Modern Art with the exhibition William Eggleston's Guide. In the catalogue for the exhibition, curator John Szarkowski wrote: "Eggleston shows us pictures of aunts and cousins and friends, of houses in the neighborhood and in neighboring neighborhoods, of local streets and side roads, local strangers, odd souvenirs, all of this appearing not at all as it might in a social document, but as it might in a diary, where the important meanings would be not public and general but private and esoteric." Because Eggleston shows us the in-between moments of life in tones that are almost too true-to-life, his work makes us look anew at our lives in the present tense. In photographs like this one, with its charmingly outdated details, our sense of place in the world is heightened by an unnerving familiarity with this unknown visitor in a dank and cheerless hotel room. It is our own intimate knowledge of similar situations, as well as the solid masses of nondescript, lifeless colorshues with that well-worn feeling of irrelevant memoriesthat charms the picture and lodges it permanently in the mind's eye.