William Eggleston Biography

William Eggleston (American, b.1939) is a photographer who played a pivotal role in elevating color photography to a revered art form suitable for gallery display. Known for his democratic approach to photography, William Eggleston captures the beauty in everyday scenes and objects that often go unnoticed, such as storefronts, cars, and buildings. His work monumentalizes these subjects, imbuing them with a significance that challenges traditional notions of artistry.


Born and raised in the South, William Eggleston grew up in a creative environment as the son of an engineer and a local judge. His early years were marked by pursuits in drawing, piano playing, and electronics tinkering. After attending boarding school and Vanderbilt University briefly, Eggleston settled at the University of Mississippi where he developed a keen interest in photography.
Influenced by fellow photographer William Christenberry, William Eggleston's experimentation with color photography began in 1965. Initially starting with black-and-white, William Eggleston fully embraced color transparency as his primary medium by the 1970s. His breakthrough came with dye-transfer printing, particularly notable in his 1973 work The Red Ceiling, which exemplifies his mastery of color and composition. William Eggleston’s first solo exhibition, Photographs, curated by John Szarkowski, debuted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1976, marking a watershed moment in photographic history where color photography gained recognition as a legitimate artistic form.
Throughout his career, William Eggleston has published several influential portfolios, including Election Eve (1976), The Morals of Vision (1978), and Troubled Waters (1980). He has received numerous awards, including the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1998) and the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement (2004).
William Eggleston's work is featured in major public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. His exhibitions have been hosted worldwide, solidifying his reputation as a seminal figure in contemporary photography. Jackson Fine Art has showcased Eggleston's work multiple times, including William Eggleston: Black and White to Color (2022) and our Private Consignment Salon & Sale in 2019 and 2020.
William Eggleston continues to live and work in Memphis, TN, where his pioneering use of color continues to inspire and influence generations of photographers.