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William Eggleston: Before Color Hardcover – 29 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl (29 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3869301228
  • ISBN-13: 978-3869301228
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 2.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 403,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With an initial flick through these pages you could be looking at Eggleston's 'Guide' or 'Ancient and modern' or 'The Democratic Forest', only these three books are all color. 'Before color' will give you an idea about the origins of Eggleston's style of capturing commonplace and overall I thought it was an interesting selection, though in the nature of this kind of project some photos really stand out and others seem rather marginal.

My favorites are the urban landscape of street scenes, retail units and houses. The interiors, whether commercial premises or homes seem to lack the punch and vitality of the outside shots. The three all color books I've mentioned are almost all exterior images.

The 152 photos have been scanned from Eggleston's original prints (and here they are printed as 175 screen quadratones) and I found it interesting to see how the texture varied from photo to photo. Some have a stippled appearance ( two military personnel, page 94/95 or office equipment, page 128/129) a newly built house (pages 74/75) looks as if you were standing in front of it in real-life because the detail is so precise or the very soft look of three teenagers at a wedding (page 193). Two night photos on pages 162/163 have incredible contrast unlike anything else in the book. Eggleston, by doing his own black and white prints, seems to be experimenting with the textures it's possible to get with various photographic papers.

As this is a photo book there is the usual essay at the start of the book. I find, from experience that these seem to fall into two categories: the extremely informative, like John Szarkowski's in 'William Eggleston's Guide' or the very generalized as the three pages by Dave Hickey in this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr Rugged on 15 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good collection of Eggleston's black and White work and reflect life in middle America in the sixties and seventies and this is where the photographs work best; capturing day to day life and activities. There are some great shots of stores, gas stations and interiors with people going about their lives. Many grab attention simply because they are of such normal things. But equally there are a number of photographs that beg the question of why are they included. These include shots of people who are probable friends and that are similar to those spur of the moment picture we all have and keep in a box or album along with those of our first car. Such pictures don't usually mean much to other people and when published in a book such as this generate confusion and detract from the overall quality of the work. That said, in the main this book provides a good insight into Eggleston's way of looking at things and, as a keen photographer myself, often leads me to ask why I don't see such things in the same way; many times Eggleston seems to say through his work, 'look, here's the picture, stop and see it for yourself'. The book itself is well put together as would be expected by publisher Steidl and the quality of the reproductions is high albeit that Eggleston's own originals show large variants in printing quality and technique. Overall I found the work both interesting and inspiring, it will be well read over the years to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A quiet but brilliant window on Americans from all walks of life that manages to be compassionate, humorous, introspective and compelling
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By Dale Holding on 20 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All Good
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The South: diced and sliced 20 Jan. 2011
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
With an initial flick through these pages you could be looking at Eggleston's 'Guide' or 'Ancient and modern' or 'The Democratic Forest', only these three books are all color. 'Before color' will give you an idea about the origins of Eggleston's style of capturing commonplace and overall I thought it was an interesting selection, though in the nature of this kind of project some photos really stand out and others seem rather marginal.

My favorites are the urban landscape of street scenes, retail units and houses. The interiors, whether commercial premises or homes seem to lack the punch and vitality of the outside shots. The three all color books I've mentioned are almost all exterior images.

The 152 photos have been scanned from Eggleston's original prints (and here they are printed as 175 screen quadratones) and I found it interesting to see how the texture varied from photo to photo. Some have a stippled appearance ( two military personnel, page 94/95 or office equipment, page 128/129) a newly built house (pages 74/75) looks as if you were standing in front of it in real-life because the detail is so precise or the very soft look of three teenagers at a wedding (page 193). Two night photos on pages 162/163 have incredible contrast unlike anything else in the book. Eggleston, by doing his own black and white prints, seems to be experimenting with the textures it's possible to get with various photographic papers.

As this is a photo book there is the usual essay at the start of the book. I find, from experience that these seem to fall into two categories: the extremely informative, like John Szarkowski's in 'William Eggleston's Guide' or the very generalized as the three pages by Dave Hickey in this book. It's called 'Deconstructing reconstruction: Eggleston in before color' and says very little including stuff like this:
'The shadowless, white urban symmetries and green arboreal chaos dissolve into the smooth grisaille of penultimate entropy'.
or:
'So the pleasure we derive from these photographs bears with it a cautionary obbligato about the horrors of careless ennui'.
I wish art book publishers would stick to a critic's overview of the artist or subject and forget about anything from others.

Because much of Eggleston's work in these photos suggests his searching and experimenting for a style that eventually exploded with his amazing color work I think the book is more for the confirmed fan rather than others.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Early work that includes a number of weak images 21 Feb. 2011
By A photographer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Bill Eggleston's color photography. More than anyone else, he deserves credit for opening the eyes of the art community to color work being as valid as black and white work. His color images are so primitive, simple and full of clarity, I often stand in awe. But his early black and white work, as published here, shows a lot of the weaknesses present in most beginning photographer's works. Muddy printing, images degraded due to technical goof-ups during film processing, bad lighting and generally weak photographs. It's a "warts and all" book of Eggleston's early work. As such, it's a very good book and worthy of purchase by those dyed-in-the-wool fans such as myself who want to know everything and see everything. But for someone unfamiliar with Eggleston's color work, it's not a good starting point. It really doesn't offer any useful insight into his later work other than the subject matter and composition. Many of the photographs printed here would never have seen publication except that they were done by one who later grew to master his art and craft.

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with the other reviewer concerning the introduction. That's some of the most pretentious claptrap I've attempted to read since the narrative to Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Artless Art" book. Do yourself a favor and just skip the introduction. It's really an insult to Eggleston's own observations about his work.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant In Black & White 9 Jan. 2011
By Buffy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The cover alone should clue you in that even in black and white Eggleston's pictures are as every bit as wonderful as his famous color work. This previously unseen collection of pre-color work shows what a great sense of subject matter and composition he had. It's too bad it has taken this long for us to see this work because it is outstanding. The book is thick with page after page of photographs with top quality printing and sturdy binding. One thing to look out for though, because of the leather-like yellow cover material (somewhat similar to the Guide, the red lettering "Before Color" is smudged and splotchy in some copies). If you're an Eggleston fan don't hesitate this makes a great addition to the library. For new viewers you're better off starting with Eggleston's Guide.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Better Than The Rest 28 Mar. 2011
By Laurence Goode - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
LOVE this book. Initially, after seeing Eggleston's stuff for the first time at the Getty Museum did not like it. After "I got it" I thought, hey, yes it is ok, but but no means great art. I like it, but would never look at it again. Yes, clear, funny at times, ironic. But rather shallow, light in context. Perhaps a mirror of society today. I do find his art better than most. But that is not really enough. My opinion of Eggleston, till this book was ok, so what. Very cute, but not as good as most I see on the mean streets of LA.

Till this book. Didn't know why at first. But couldn't stop looking at this book. Still can't. I think in retrospective it is because it is so raw and hence more immediately real, with greater impact and depth. But can one realy say. Just know like it better. There is not that contrived, or rather artifically staged quality of his prior books which effortlessly detracts from it's importance and impact. Rawer and realler I would say. The picture of the Marines, of course is justly famous. But I like the men sitting outside the burger joint, and especially the kid eating ice cream. I lke a lot of them. And admit, there are inconsistancies amongst the pictures. But to my mind, these images are much more powerfull and carry more impact than his latter books. Dont know why. But owned every one of his books for review prior this one. Only kept this one.

TTFN
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pure Eggleston 30 Mar. 2013
By Emkay Uhltra - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you appreciate the beauty, subtlety, and mystery of William Eggleston's work then I can't imagine you won't love this book. Not only does it have a ton of previously unpublished imagery, it is reproduced from Eggleston's original darkroom prints and printed by Steidl (known for stunning reproductions in general). This book is rare in today's world: new work by a true master published while the artist is still around to oversee the production. As a real nerd I can't help but imagining what Steidl might have done with a set of new scans from the original negatives, but fantasies aside this book is an absolute must have for any Eggleston fan and will be a wonderful addition to any photography/visual art library.
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