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It’s pretty unusual for a living artist to have his or her own museum. But that honor is going to William Eggleston, known as the father of color photography as an art form.

Eggleston, 71, is lucky to be from Memphis, which is home to a museum for Elvis and to Stax, a museum for American soul music. Two years ago, a group of local philanthropists decided that giving Eggleston a museum would be good not only for him but also for the city. Together, members of the group have pledged more than $5 million to start the ball rolling.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

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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.

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Adrian Searle
Guardian


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.

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Sean O’Hagan
Guardian

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