William Eggleston: The Democratic Forest (Doubleday, 1989)



William Eggleston – often referred to as the “father of color photography” – was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in the Mississippi Delta. He has lived in Memphis for the majority of his life. Since the 1970s, Eggleston’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide and work by the artist is held in major international museums.



The Democratic Forest provides a sequence of images which form an almost autobiographic narrative, beginning with pictures of Eggleston’s home territory in the Mississippi Delta.






“There is especial beauty in his sensitive and exacting use of color, its variations and intensities. We see the celestial blue of burning trash, the golden cloak of sunlight, or blight; the slip of a tree trying to push its way up one more time through one more crack in the parking-lot pavement is a lyrical green. But particularly there is red: the banner red of Coca-Cola signs a hundred strong, the Sienese red of rust, further and further intensities of red, the deeper into the city we go: red caught in the act of spreading, hectic and alarming, collecting and running at large through the intersections like a contagion. Solid reds: the interior of a Memphis Krystal Hamburger house, furnishings and all, a creation entirely in ruby-red plastic. Throbbing reds, like vibrations being given off by the traffic.” Introduction to The Democratic Forest by Eudora Welty








“I was in Oxford, Mississippi, for a few days and I was driving out to Holly Springs on a back road, stopping here and there. It was the time of year when the landscape wasn’t yet green. I left the car and walked into the dead leaves off the road. It was one of those occasions when there was no picture there. It seemed like nothing, but of course there was something for someone out there. I started forcing myself to take pictures of the earth, where it had been eroded 30 or 40 feet from the road. There were a few weeds. I began to realise that soon I was taking some pretty good pictures, so I went further into the woods and up a little hill, and got well into an entire roll of film.

Later, when I was having dinner with some friends, writers from around Oxford, or maybe at the bar of the Holiday Inn, someone said, ‘What have you been photographing here today, Eggleston?’

‘Well, I’ve been photographing democratically,’ I replied.

‘But what have you been taking pictures of?’

‘I’ve been outdoors, nowhere, in nothing.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, just woods and dirt, a little asphalt here and there.’”  Afterword William Eggleston in Conversation with Mark Holborn






Introduction by Eudora Welty | Hardcover | 176 pages | 28,2 x 25,9 cm.


Artist: http://www.egglestontrust.com