The Beautiful Mysterious
The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston
A unique look at the acclaimed photographer known for trailblazing artistic color photographs
Contributions by Megan Abbott, Michael Almereyda, Kris Belden-Adams, Maude Schuyler Clay, William Dunlap, W. Ralph Eubanks, William Ferris, Marti A. Funke, Lisa Howorth, Amanda Malloy, Richard McCabe, Emily Ballew Neff, Robert Saarnio, and Anne Wilkes Tucker
The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston is an examination of the life and work of the artist widely considered to be the father of color photography. William Eggleston was born in 1939 and grew up in the Mississippi Delta town of Sumner. His innovative 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York helped establish color photography as an artistic medium and has inspired photographers and artists around the world.
Edited by Ann J. Abadie, the catalog contains fifty-five Eggleston photographs, thirty-six that were featured in The Beautiful Mysterious exhibition at the University of Mississippi Museum from September 2016 to February 2017. Eggleston’s longtime friend William Ferris, a celebrated folklorist, donated all the photographs to the Museum. The photographs range from 1962 into the 1980s, representing each of Eggleston’s projects during that time. Some of the photographs are inscribed with Eggleston’s rare handwritten notes about location, people, dates, and projects. Eight of Eggleston’s early dye transfers are in the collection. Many of these works had not been on public display before this exhibition, including black-and-white images that are unique-copy single prints.
This is a penetrating examination of the influence of the Mississippi Delta and the American South on Eggleston’s work and of Eggleston’s influence on photography and other creative fields.
The result is a single volume that provides both the stunning photographs and a good deal of context for understanding William Eggleston and his work.- Peter Kuryla, Chapter 16
The Beautiful Mysterious is a treasure. So many of these pictures are new to me. This is not only a vital chapter in William Eggleston’s history but also tells so much about the South and at the same time about all of humanity, geography aside. It is in the best of the Walker Evans tradition.- John T. Hill, author of Walker Evans: Lyric Documentary, coauthor of Walker Evans: Depth of Field, and executor of the Walker Evans Estate