Yo Zushi at The New Statesman:
William Eggleston may not have been the first colour photographer in art, but he was, at least, among the first to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is hard now to imagine a time when working with colour film was considered transgressive (Walker Evans insisted it was “vulgar”) and harder still to believe that the practice could cause eyes to roll as recently as 1976, when Eggleston’s breakthrough solo show – bearing the then provocative title “Color Photographs” – was dismissed by critics as “perfectly banal”.
More than anything, his early detractors were confused. Galleries had hitherto been the domain of black-and-white photography. Colour was for holiday snaps, advertising and fashion spreads, so what was this mook from Memphis up to, with his rich reds, brilliant blues and glowing flesh tones? These were “stupid” criticisms, a grumpy Eggleston said in 2010, but his lifelong insistence that all he is interested in is simply “photographing life” has done little to loosen his association with the mundane – especially as the life he photographs is on the whole generic, earthy and Main Street American.
Yet it need not be a negative association. Ethically minded readings of Andy Warhol’s early-Sixties prints of soup cans and typewriters posit that what at first glance may seem to be profoundly banal is in fact a pursuit of the “banal profound”, in which the everyday world is interrogated and overcome, not merely reproduced.