I ARRIVE AT THE Eggleston Artistic Trust building at just after 1 on a sweltering, humid Memphis afternoon. I am met at the door by the charismatic son of the photographer William Eggleston, Winston, who is the director of the trust as well as its official archivist. He ushers me into the cool, darkened rear office where his father sits at one of two substantial desks that are positioned face to face, occupying the center of the room. Large photographic proof sheets hang on the walls along with old Coke signs. An illuminated jukebox sits in the corner beside a red midcentury sofa.
At 77, Eggleston is mischievous, beguiling, puzzling and fascinating, all in nearly equal measure. He has been called a legend and an icon. He is frequently referred to as “the godfather of color photography,” even though the sensational 1976 solo exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art that established him as such was widely panned at the time. “Critics and so forth obviously weren’t really looking at this stuff,” he says today. “Didn’t bother me a bit. I laughed at ’em.”
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