William Eggleston is widely regarded as one of America's greatest living photographer-artists, and the reasons why are evident in this dazzling show of 27 recent images. Born in Memphis in 1939, Eggleston was a pioneer in the use of color, and his saturated hues lend each of his images a sense of lush sensuality, no matter how mundane the subject. In the new work, he concentrates on aspects of the American urban landscape that contain religious images or emblems, and the combination of spiritual and abject subject matter conveys a feeling of down-to-earth dignity and at times even grandeur.
Shot mostly in California and Arizona, the new pictures are in keeping with his familiar, quirky vision. The intense, shimmering light and heightened color make a battered doorway, a homely cactus, and an open suitcase lying on the ground, for examples, seem like timeless sources of mystery and wonder, players in fantastic, otherworldly scenes.
One outstanding picture shows a red banner bearing the outline of a face, an homage to painting and drawing, perhaps. Another stunning piece features a row of topiary trees, and still another, an ordinary parking lot. Eggleston, like all of the best artists, seems to find beauty in everything, everywhere.
"William Eggleston: Recent Work," Mar. 1-Apr. 14, 2001, at Cheim & Read, 521 W. 23 Street, New York, N.Y. 10011.