A few years ago a box was found in the archives of the William Eggleston Artistic Trust in Memphis, containing Eggleston's earliest photography-remarkably, in black and white. The photos were subsequently exhibited and sold at Cheim & Read gallery in New York. This book reunites these photos in their entirety, and shows the artistic beginnings of a pioneer of contemporary photography. In the late 1950s, Eggleston began photographing suburban Memphis using high-speed 35 mm black-and-white film, developing the style and motifs that would come to shape his pivotal color work, including diners, supermarkets, domestic interiors and people engaged in seemingly trivial and banal situations. Now, 50 years later, all the plates in Before Color have been scanned from vintage prints developed by Eggleston in his own darkroom. In the mid-1960s Eggleston discovered color film and was immediately satisfied with the results: "And by God, it worked. Just overnight." Eggleston then abandoned black-and-white photography, but its fundamental influence on his practice is undeniable.
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