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The Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne is holding an exhibition about William Eggleston. This American photographer established color in photography as a recognized master art. Once again the Lausanne Museum for photography brings a daring and sharp choice for the pleasure of our minds and eyes.

William Eggleston, from Cartier-Bresson to contemporary photography

After some chaotic parcours in school and university, there is one thing that William Eggleston learned: the passion for photography. While in university, a friend offered him a Leica camera and since that moment he understood the power of photography and the interesting action of capturing in a photograph the essentiality of a moment. He became passionate about French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson and Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank.

Henri Cartier Besson Decisive moment

He was fascinated by these 2 artists artwork. At the same time, Eggleston believed that art photography needed to evolve and technology should help this evolution. Historically speaking, art photography was exclusively executed in Black and white. It was classicism and tradition that would place photography around these 2 colors and all shades of grey available. Lights and contrasts would play a tremendous role. In the second half of the 19th century, chemists and engineers would develop a new process allowing to add color into the photographic process. Several techniques were developed and all these would be treated in labs, after the photo was taken. We needed to wait until the 30’s to being able to use color in photography through color films. 2 big names would revolutionize the history of photography and film: Kodak and Agfa.

Kodak KodachromWith their technological breakthroughs in terms of color films, there is a full generation of new cameras that was launched in the 30’s and the 40’s. At that time, color photographs completely changed the way photographers would prepare their topic. Art photography was still remaining on the black and white side while color was used for photo-journalism and travel-photography. William Eggleston would change this. By using color films on his work, starting in 1965, he would change the approach of photography. He gets passionate about what happens in the daily life and will make the statement of a lifetime. The use of color will define in photography this nostalgical approach of things that will be as well a way to bring a critic eye into the society values and habits. William Eggleston work will be striking as he will reveal with his camera the extraordinary beauty of a mundaine world. One of his most famous artwork is called “The Red Ceiling”. It was done in 1973.


According to the artist himself, this photography is so powerful that he never succeeded to reach a satisfactory result in print. It became the icon of his approach and inspired generations of photographers.

William Eggleston, from Black and White to color – new exhibition at Musée l’Elysée

Obsessed by icons of banality like supermarkets, bars, gas stations, automobiles and ghostly figures lost in space, William Eggleston is a one of a kind. Exhibited at MoMA in 1976, Eggleston’s work in color marked a turning point in the history of photography.

William Eggleston, From Los Alamos, folio 1 [Supermarket boy with carts], Memphis, 1965 © William Eggleston, Courtesy Wilson Centre for Photography

The Musée de l’Elysée reveals a sharp exhibition about Eggleston. More than 100 prints in black and white as well as color, will illustrate the game changing in Eggleston work. It is the first time that the Lausanne Museum for photography exhibits the artist, so it is definitely an appointment with all photography aficionados. Through the current display, the exhibition shows the artists obsessions about ceilings, food, waiting or unconventional framing.

18, avenue de l’Elysée
1014 Lausanne – Switzerland
From January 30th to May 3rd 2015 

William Eggleston was inspired by photography heritage to shape the future, his work inspired generations of photographers and designers. Several artwork are masterpieces of the genre and they are for some of them more than 30 years old. Yet Eggleston work is still on top of modernity. It is what we call being a visionary.


Info sourced at Musee de l’Elysee official communication, wikipedia and the artist official website. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.