At Gagosian New York Gallery
By Nancy Nesvet
New York City, NY – “William Eggleston: At Zenith,” currently showing at Gagosian New York Gallery, includes 15 large-scale pigment prints, each measuring 44” X 60”, from Eggleston’s “Wedgewood Blue” cloud series. The prints result from a 1978 photographic exercise when Eggleston lay on the ground during daylight in Tennessee and aimed his early instant camera at celestial zenith, directly overhead.
The resulting views of fluffy clouds in a cerulean blue sky present postcard images, in keeping with Eggleston’s history of as a flaneur, incorporating fragments of his world into his photographic oeuvre. These photographs, from 1979 negatives, printed digitally from scans of the original negatives allow a color saturation that exceeds that of the dye transfer process Eggleston used in past work, and continues a tradition of cloud painting including the work of 19th century romantic painters Joseph Turner and John Constable and cloud paintings by Gerhard Richter and other contemporary painters.
The romantics used more emotion and imagination in their paintings, but the flaneur observes and records what he sees, in this case a peaceful cloud scene and blue sky, devoid of emotion or imagination; a camera image. The images are highly individualistic however, due to the changing views photographed by Eggleston as the sky and clouds pushed on. This show consequently melds the realistic, camera view of the cloud with the highly personal positioning and view of Eggleston, the artist, a tenet of romanticism.
(“William Eggleston: At Zenith” continues through December 21, 2013 at Gagosian New York Gallery, 980 Madison Ave., New York City. For more information, call (212) 744-2312.)
(Nancy Nesvet, an independent curator, painter and photographer, is the president of the Art, Labor, Education Institute. A MFA graduate of Maine College of Art, she is currently chief curator of “Fasanella’s Lawrence,” showing the paintings of Ralph Fasanella at the Lawrence Heritage State Park Gallery in Lawrence, Mass.)