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C/O Berlin presents “Mystery of the Ordinary,” a major retrospective of William Eggleston, one of the American masters of color photography.

© William Eggleston – Courtesy of C/O Berlin

“At dusk, the shadows of plants grow mysteriously along the wall of the house. In front of this shadow theatre stands a metallic lilac Cadillac, on the glossy paintwork where the last rays of the sun are dancing.

The brick-lined flowerbed, the shrubs planted there and the straw-woven blinds in front of the window with their rusty colors complete this picture composition, which at the same time exudes a strange calmness.” With this introduction, C/O Berlin invites us to this major exhibition by William Eggleston.

Over the course of five decades, the man from Memphis, Tennessee, where he continues to live today at the age of 84, has turned the ordinary and banal of post-war America into a new vision of the world, elevating color photography to the status of art.

From the 1960s onwards, he broke away from his peers, such as Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, by experimenting with color’s relationship of beauty and mystery to the commonplace and the mundane.

His first solo exhibition at MoMA in New York in 1976 marked “a pivotal moment in the acceptance of the medium into the canon of art history.”

© William Eggleston – Courtesy of C/O Berlin

In “Mystery of the Ordinary,” the C/O Berlin Foundation traces the approaches of the artist, who was quick to take into account the components of reality through new framings, from which emerges his poetic and fascinating vision of the American South and beyond.

The exhibition presents famous series, such as Los Alamos, his first color project, taken between 1965 and 1974, during a road trip across the United States with Walter Hopps.

But there are also previously unpublished works, such as “The Outlands” and images taken in the German capital between 1981 and 1988. “A blue bouquet on the door of a house, a building façade tiled in bright colors, a ceiling painted in brilliant blood red: the intensity of color alone, and Eggleston’s constant sensitivity to it, was a formal and analytical provocation,” the Berlin cultural space now reaffirms.

“His work has had a profound effect on contemporary visual culture, and the impact of his iconic language can be seen in a wide range of works by new generations of photographers.”

William Eggleston : Mystery of the Ordinary  – C/O Berlin Foundation, 

Hardenbergstraße 22–24

Berlin – Germany

Until 4 May 2023

Nathalie Dassa