William Eggleston 21st Century, Victoria Miro Gallery, London


Another kind of American beauty

William Eggleston's photographs contain some of the most luminescent colour that you can hope to lay your eyes on in a printed picture. What's even more surprising is that Eggleston finds such colour in dumpsters, bathrooms and alleyways.

Eggleston, himself from Memphis, Tennessee, became known as a chronicler of America, and the South in particular, in photographs often peppered with the everyday and the discarded – empty glass coke bottles gleaming green white and gold on a sunny windowsill, gigantic advertising hoardings in empty fields and ubiquitous lonely gas stations. Eggleston bestows on all of these a commonplace, almost aching, beauty. This exhibition of recent works, entitled 21st Century at Victoria Miro Gallery, includes many photographs that are more akin to colour field painting or collage than they are to documentary, peppered with wry allusions.

The exhibition begins, for example, with an image of a room in a sign factory in St Petersburg, Russia. Blank white signs, like the kind painted with house names, wait expectantly on a wooden shelf for words and pictures, while, in contrast, the room is decorated with posters (some framed) of naked pin-up girls, oddly uniform in their shades of oiled, orangey skin. The picture coralls together images of complete visibility and complete invisibility, and almost nothing in between. Close by in another image, a garish Memphis kitchen is full of a yellow shade that squawks on packaging and mustard bottles, contrasted with an equally artificial red box for Piggly Wiggly crackers. Glimpsing a garden through the door to the left, dappled in sunlight and refreshingly calm shades of green, we see another world.

Unexpected loveliness is found in an image of a Cuban bathroom taken in 2007. Pink curtains faded by the powerful sunlight into tones of fuchsia, pistachio and gold billow in the breeze, giving the room a rich rosy glow. The scuzzy paint and white tiles are transformed into a rich, almost magical shade. Similarly otherworldly is a picture of the inside of a freezer, where ice has formed into long clouds of aquamarine and magnolia crystals on the ridges at the back. Stored below are bags of Party Ice, uniform in comparison, in bags of red and blue packaging. Equally charmed with light is a spoon gleaming on a windowsill of woodgrain so rich that it looks like pheasants feathers.

The images also reach beyond the immediate visual pleasures of colour and light. A repeated motif of Eggleston's are bright dresses or hair screened behind milky, frosted glass or shop windows, hinting at desire, at the intangible. While the photographer does manage to catch a fleeting moment of everyday transcendence, each discrete moment of reality or beauty is just that – a snatched fragment. This is strongly felt in a photograph of a discarded scrap of the LA Times lying on the ground, sunbleached so that and the story and the accompanying image – of skyscrapers blooming in China – have faded into the same bluegrass greens and yellows of the grass that it lies in. The colour of the grass and the paper is also the colour of banknotes. All seem to float equally on a kind of breeze here, and all seem destined to fade into memory.

To 27 February ( www.victoria-miro.com )

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing