William Eggleston’s Untitled (Newspaper on Ground, Grass, California, 2000): ‘More muted tones point towards pure abstraction.’ Photograph: Eggleston Artistic Trust

In her illuminating introduction to William Eggleston’s book The Democratic Forest (1989), Eudora Welty writes that his photographs “focus on the mundane world” and that “there is especial beauty in his sensitive and exacting use of colour, its variations and intensities”. This remains the case.

Now 70, Eggleston’s eye is still drawn to the everyday, and he still renders it as if he were a visitor from Mars. And yet what you sense here, in the 22 new photographs on display at Victoria Miro, is a tentative reinvention. Eggleston is a master of vivid, sometimes garish, colour, though the lurid oranges, reds and yellows no longer shock the eye like they used to. What intrigues more here is his deployment of more muted tones that, in certain photographs, point towards a move into pure abstraction.


Sean O’Hagan