Yesterday I flogged the new bus down to Chicago and met Ken Tanaka for a tour of the Eggleston Show.
William Eggleston has been part of the oxygen for as long as I've been involved in photography. His big splash introduction to the world came with the big MoMA exhibit in 1976, when Szarkowski famously declared that "Color photography has found its Mozart." I'd gotten my first serious camera for my sixteenth birthday three years earlier. Throughout my adult life I've seen his many books as they've come out, caught the odd exhibit here and there, seen the most famous pictures again and again hither and yon.
It's been a long time since I found Eggleston challenging, although I do remember that period. Now, he's the opposite—like photographic comfort food. Many pictures are like old friends.
Seeing the big Chicago exhibit yesterday was a delight. It was equally pleasurable to see old favorites and also to find a good number of things I'd never seen before. Ken (who has been a longtime supporter of TOP and a frequent commenter; he's written several posts and camera reviews for us as well) is involved with the AIC, and says he's seen the show more than a dozen times in various official and unofficial capacities. He got to meet Eggleston during the opening and was present at the museum's functions, both public and private, when the show began. He's not only friendly, articulate, and an insider, but very knowledgeable about the work (not to mention the medium) as well. It greatly improved my experience of the show to see it in his company.
Wish you could have been there with us. We'd make a hell of a pair of tourguides.
Over coffee, Ken showed me his E-P2 with the finder and Panasonic 7–14mm lens, too, which might be the coolest of all the possible Micro 4/3 cameras. I had the Mamiya 7 with me.
The only downside of the experience was that the low lighting level ruins some of the pictures. (And Ken says the lights were turned up during all the opening festivities! Grr.) But only a few; by no means all. The show really runs the gamut, too—work is shown from throughout the last four decades, in dye transfer, Type C, silver gelatin (black and white) and digital prints in both color and monochrome.
I need to keep reminding myself that the opportunity to see work is really what energizes my enthusiasm for the medium of photography. It always recharges my batteries. The three-letter word for this: fun.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.