Wednesday, April 29, 2009

William Eggleston's Paris

William Eggleston is exhibiting his "Paris" pictures at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (until June 21). For the last three years, Eggleston has photographed Paris as part of a commission for Fondation Cartier. The "Paris" series marks his second solo show at the Fondation Cartier and follows two other Cartier commissions "Deserts" (2000) and one on "Kyoto (2001). The exhibition also includes a rare look at the photographer's drawings, some of which are juxtaposed with his photographs.
Eggleston's photographs are most closely associated with the American South. His work is characterized by his observation of the banal and ordinary. Not surprisingly Eggleston's Paris series avoids the usual cliches. Many of his pictures look like they could have been taken anywhere. Says Eggleston "I approached it as if it is just anywhere...You're not sure: is this Paris, Mexico City, elsewhere? I didn't change my style for Paris. I just did as always, used the same approach."
"When people ask me what I do," says Eggleston "I say that I am taking pictures of life today." Many of the images exhibited at the Cartier Fondation such as two children playing at a café, motorcycles at a stoplight, anonymous passers-by express Eggleston's concern for the everyday.
The photographer has often said that he attempts to photograph "democratically," which means for Eggleston that everything may potentially be an interesting picture and that every element within the photo should be of equal importance.
Many of Eggleston's pictures have a touch of melancholy. The photographer once described his approach saying "I want an absence of too much prettiness...Not a complete absence of it, but just like coffee, pictures can get too sweet."
Does this exhibition mark the end of photographing Paris for Eggleston? "After three years working at it on and off, I still feel I have just barely begun. It's a big project...I hope it will be my crowning achievement."

"Willam Eggleston Paris" to June 21, 2009, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 261, Blvd. Raspail, 75014 Paris. Open daily (except Mondays) 11-8pm. Tues eves. to 10pm.

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