“Paris” by William Eggleston

“Paris” is a handsome book published by Steidl on the occasion of Eggleston’s exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in 2009.  Eggleston – father of color photography – was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier to photograph Paris over the course of a 3 year period.

But don’t expect your typical tourist shots of the Eiffel Tower and the Musee Rodin.  “Paris” is the places and spaces in between: graffiti on glass, posters on walls, trash in see-through garbage bags.  It’s all the things that you looked at without seeing while you are in Paris.  There is a particular focus on planar surfaces and patterns and this is reinforced by Eggleston’s abstract drawings which are interspersed in between his photos.

The drawings are almost like maps or lines one would draw with their eyes while looking at photographs.  Or maybe even a type of visual sheet music juxtaposing all the visual elements and motifs which Eggleston has honed throughout the years in his photographic practice.  It’s wonderful how photographers like WE and HCB also choose drawing as a creative outlet.  The camera is after all nature’s pencil.

As is expected from Steidl the book is beautifully crafted with sensuous black satin covers. It is organized into Books One and Two with Book Two containing several more drawings than Book One.  Most spreads contain one photo/drawing with some containing two.  This has the effect of forcing you to search for similarities or reasons for the pairings.  Most of the pairings are drawings with photos although there’s always some pairings that break the rule.  It’s quite an effective way to create more opportunities for the viewer to linger over the materials.

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