William Eggleston & John McCracken
Beyond both being pillars of postwar American art, the connections between William Eggleston and John McCracken—one a photographer of luminous American landscape, the other a maker of bright resin and fiberglass planks—are at first mysterious. But as one navigates room after room of their paired work in “True Stories,” at David Zwirner’s Upper East Side location, resonances between the two begin to take shape. Indeed, McCracken, veering radically from his Minimalist peers, referred to his work as “essences” of the man-made world so poetically captured in Eggleston’s photography.
McCracken conceptualized his planks, which stand alone, and lean against both wall and floor, as a point of contact between a solid world of objects, trees, cars, and buildings, and the apparitional world of the imagination, art, thinking, and dreaming: they are both a stroke of color in space, like a brushstroke, and also referential to the world without. Fittingly, the red stripes of an awning against a baby-blue sky in Eggleston’s Untitled (c. 1973-8) is bookended by the contemporaneous red stripe of McCracken’s Untitled (Red Plank) (1976), and faces off the baby-blue block of his Untitled (1968) as well.
Between the two artists, Eggleston’s compositions begin to seem modular, while the solidly abstract sculptures of McCracken become affective, even allusive. Together, the two artists’ expressive usages of color and light, and their divergent methods—illuminated through juxtaposition—cement their place not just in American art, but in the American visual repertoire.
William Eggleston, Untitled, c. 1973-1978. © Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner.