July 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, William Eggleston, and Bobbie Gentry

William Eggleston, Untitled, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, 1972, from the portfolio 14 Pictures, 1972, printed 1974; Collection SFMOMA, Arthur W. Barney Bequest Fund purchase; © Eggleston Artistic Trust

William Eggleston, Untitled, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, 1972, 1972, printed 1974; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Eggleston Artistic Trust

William Eggleston, Untitled, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, ca. 1974; Collection Randi and Bob Fisher and SFMOMA

Today we celebrate the 73rd birthday of Memphis, Tennessee, photographer William Eggleston. Mr. Eggleston has been photographing in the American South since the ’60s, and there are a number of his fantastic pictures in the SFMOMA collection. While I was searching for something special of his to share this afternoon, I was struck especially by these three pictures taken in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, in the early ’70s. “Tallahatchie” reminded me of that sad Southern Gothic top-4 Billboard hit of 1967, Ode to Billie Joe, and, thank the Internet, I’ve just discovered that Mississippi-born Bobbie Gentry, who wrote and recorded the song, also celebrates a birthday today (68!). Cheers to these two chroniclers of a very particularly American tempo, soul, geography, color, milieu.

Here’s Bobbie performing Ode to Billie Joe, on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967:


More William Eggleston.

Comments (2)

  • Steve Benson says:

    I love seeing Eggleston photos, and I appreciate having a chance to do so while listening to this musical accompaniment. A moment of wrenching romanticism, stilled within a classical coordination.

  • two of my all time favorites, both reclusive artists of exceptional beauty and honest truth. happy birthday to them both!

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