Posts Tagged ‘Election Eve’

Election Eve

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Most Days at the moment I get four or five messages asking me to support Joe Biden, even though as a British citizen I have no vote in the forthcoming election. Trump’s team take no interest in me, perhaps because of the nature of some of my online posts. But it isn’t that election I’m writing about.

The Eye of Photography has reminded me of William Eggleston’s ‘Election Eve‘, originally published in 1977 as two leather-bound volumes containing 100 original prints in a box by Caldecot Chubb, a man best known as a film producer, in New York. It was a very limited edition of only five copies and the price was presumably astronomical, which was perhaps why I didn’t buy a copy.

There is a different reason which will stop me buying the second edition, printed more economically in offset litho. Though I have a great admiration for Eggleston, I already have somewhere on my shelves ‘William Eggleston’s Guide‘ and the first edition of his ‘The Democratic Forest‘, as well as the 1992 Barbican exhibition catalogue ‘Ancient And Modern’, as well as a number of portfolios in other publications. And frankly, although there are some images of interest, I think that from what I’ve seen so far ‘Election Eve‘ is a relatively minor work of Eggleston.

The price of the new edition, at € 85.00 (around £77) is perhaps not excessive, and doubtless it will be well printed and presented by Steidl. In 1989 ‘The Democratic Forest‘ cost £30.00, almost exactly the same allowing for inflation, though I think I may have got it as a review copy. But unless you are a completist collector, ‘Forest’ seems to me an unnecessary purchase.

There are relatively few photographers who I think it is worth owning more than a couple of books by, and rather more where just one is sufficient. The exceptions for me are those whose work has changed greatly over the course of their lives and also some where the subject matter is itself of great interest as well as the photography. Eggleston’s approach and subject matter seems to me remarkably consistent over the years (with a few minor aberrations.)

There have been so many interesting photographers over the years, and I’m well aware that many of the books on my groaning overloaded shelves are seldom opened but sit there gathering dust. For me they are a resource, a library I consult when writing about photographers, as well as occasionally sitting down to enjoy a volume.

But while books are important, the main way I and I think most others now experience photographs is on the web, and it would be good to see the Eggleston Art Foundation showing more of his work on the web. Although there are relatively few of his pictures available you can watch ‘page-throughs’ of several of his books on YouTube, including one of a more recent selection of work from ‘The Democratic Forest‘ as well as some others, often best with the soundtrack muted.