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William Eggleston, Untitled, c. 1977. (c) Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy of the Eggleston Art Foundation.

Photographer William Eggleston Establishes Foundation to Preserve His Legacy

Artist William Eggleston, a pioneer of color photography, has launched a foundation dedicated to the preservation of his oeuvre. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1939, Eggleston, who turned eighty in July, has developed a signature pictorial style of making the mundane electrifying by capturing ordinary objects through interesting camera angles and producing prints in vivid hues. Over the course of his six-decade career, Eggleston has been featured in a number of groundbreaking exhibitions, including a 1976 solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which was one of the first presentations of color photography at the institution.

Based in the artist’s hometown, the foundation will facilitate loans of Eggleston’s works for museums and provide other assistance for exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. It will also house the Eggleston Archive and serve as a resource for scholars. The nonprofit will be helmed by art historian and intellectual property lawyer Virginia Rutledge, a former curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art who also previously worked as general counsel for Creative Commons. The artist’s children—Andra, Winston, and William Eggleston III—will serve as the foundation’s founding board members.

The organization will also embrace Eggleston’s basic philosophy behind shooting: “I had this notion of what I called a democratic way of looking around: that nothing was more important or less important,” the artist said. This outlook served as the basis for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2008 retrospective of the artist’s work, “William Eggleston: Democratic Camera—Photographs and Video, 1961–2008.” It will also become the organizing principle behind upcoming projects that the foundation is involved in. One of its first collaborations is with Memphis’s Dixon Gallery and Gardens. The venue will host an exhibition of Eggleston’s work alongside that of Jennifer Steinkamp, who is known for her computer animations, in January.

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