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William Eggleston's Music, Much Like His Photography, Thrives Off Ambiguity

Photographer William Eggleston released his first album, <em>Musik,</em> this past October.
Peter Townsend
/
Courtesy of the artist
Photographer William Eggleston released his first album, Musik, this past October.

In the 1970s, William Eggleston shocked the New York art world when the Museum of Modern Art exhibited his color photographs (Until then, most
serious photography had been black and white). Eggleston's pictures of the everyday established color photography and turned him into an art star. At the age of 78, the Memphis native surprised people yet again by releasing his first body of original music last October, an album titled Musik.

NPR reporter Rick Karr speaks with Eggleston and Memphis writer Robert Gordon about the parallels of Eggleston's inventive nature in both photography and music.

"In the way that you hold a shotgun at your waist and point it — y'know,
you're not looking through the sight? He liberated his camera from his
eye," Gordon says. "To me, that's very improvisational."

"I can easily see a very close connection. But I cannot explain it," says Eggleston.

Click the audio link for the fullAll Things Considered story and hear Eggleston's piano improvisations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rick Karr contributes reports on the arts to NPR News. He is a correspondent for the weekly PBS public affairs show Bill Moyers Journal and teaches radio journalism at Columbia University.
Art Silverman has been with NPR since 1978. He came to NPR after working for six years at a daily newspaper in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Tom Cole is a senior editor on NPR's Arts Desk. He develops, edits, produces, and reports on stories about art, culture, music, film, and theater for NPR's news magazines Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered. Cole has held these responsibilities since February 1990.
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