Strange and familiar … detail from Untitled (bathroom with pink curtain, Cuba), 2007 Photograph: William Eggleston

William Eggleston’s photographs are filled with light; he calibrates its ­differences and qualities. The shadow of a palm tree on a sun-smitten wall; light filtering into an empty shower stall through a faded curtain. Grim, hellish light inside a freezer, the rust-pigmented frost caked to the freezer wall, plastic bags of ice ­snuggled neatly in the lower gloom. Who else would think to photograph this dreary beauty?

Eggleston’s new exhibition 21st ­Century, selected from work made over the last decade, opens this week at the ­Victoria Miro gallery in London. (The same exhibition also runs concurrently at Cheim and Read in New York, where I saw it a few days ago.) Increasingly the subject of major retrospectives, where individual works are often ­subsumed in the arc of a career that has spanned more than 40 years, the Memphis-born photographer’s work is both familiar and strange.


Adrian Searle