Monday, March 25, 2013

Common Colour

I propose to investigate the role of colour in showing the vitality in the banality of everyday life in America with particular focus on the work of the “new colour” photographers of the 1970s. 

Hot Sauce, William Eggleston

In an effort to explore the above, I have identified the themes below as potential areas of interest to explore further.  These themes could then be further supported and augmented by primary research in the form of a series of photographic projects investigating the applications of colour on everyday subject matter.

Acceptance. Investigate the change of attitude towards the use of colour in photography in the 1970s. Although invented in 1907, it took until the 1970s for colour photography to be accepted seriously into the photographic world. 

Black & White are the colours of photography – Robert Frank

Once upon a time there were jobs, Robert Frank, 1955

What were the underlying barriers to its acceptance? What was the tipping point (or points) that leads to its acceptance? What was the role of art movements such as abstract expressionism and pop-art, in its renaissance?

Advocates. William Eggleston was the first proponent of colour photography to be truly accepted by the art world when John Szarkowski showed his work at MOMA in 1976. The publication, William Eggleston's Guide, in which Szarkowski called Eggleston's photographs "perfect," focus on everyday, umdane and trivial subjects.

William Eggleston's Guide, 1976

Perfect? Perfectly banal, maybe…perfectly boring, certainly  Hilton Kramer, New York art critic 

The research aims to focus on Eggleston’s work as well as the other  “new color” photographers of the 70s and 80s such as Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld.

Ginger Shore, Stephen Shore, 1977

Uncommon Places, Stephen Shore, 1982

Uncommon Places, Stephen Shore, 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Application. What tangible attributes does colour bring to a photo (life, focus, emphasis, energy etc.)? What were the various processes used and why? (e.g. Eggleston’s discovery of the dye-transfer process in 1973) What meaning (psychological) can be attributed to the use of colour in photography?

Subject. What effect did the application of colour have on the representation of daily life in America?  How did it change the perception of everyday life in America? 

William Eggleston

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