William Eggleston: Portraits 1974 (5 stars)

This article is from 2007.

William Eggleston: Portraits 1974

Colours burst and explode over groovily sublime portraits

No matter what decade you were brought up in, the 1970s are absolutely dripping with glossy, honey-hued nostalgia. And it’s exactly this kitschy, colour-saturated era that William Eggleston has captured in his 1974 photographs on show at Inverleith House. In this first showing of these stunning large format colour photographs taken by Eggleston in his native Memphis over 30 years ago, but not printed until very recently, colours burst and pop at every turn – sunshine love bus yellow gives way to glossy cherry popsicle vinyl, which is happily sitting next to a powdery polyester disco blue.

And vivid colour isn’t the only upshot of the large format photography that Eggleston uses; incredibly sharp detail pulls you in to each and every portrait.

The flecks of dandruff in the quiff of an aging craggy-faced country singer; the busted belt notches caused by the ever-expanding waistline of a belly stuffed full of southern fried chicken; the downy blond hair on the tanned arms of a pretty teenage roller girl; all of these images give you a striking insight into the characters that made up Eggleston’s 1970s world. After a while, this heightened sense of precise detail leads to an equally heightened sense of reality – spend long enough lingering on the American Tan tights slipped into the superbly shiny patent leather shoes of a suburban housewife, or the lovingly-polished badge pinned to the lapel of the president of the Official Tex Ritter Fan Club, and a gorgeous hyper-reality nudges Eggleston’s portraits from the run-of-the-mill everyday into the groovily sublime. (Claire Mitchell)

Royal Botanic Gardens (Inverleith House), 552 7171, until 14 Oct, Tue–Sun 10am–5.30pm, free.

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