William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories | David Zwirner

William Eggleston and John McCracken

True Stories

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of works by William Eggleston and John McCracken—the first time these two iconic American artists have been featured together. On view at the gallery’s East 69th Street location in New York, True Stories places Eggleston and McCracken into dialogue around their expressive use of color and light, and their distinct versions of American vernacular culture.

Born within five years of one another—McCracken in Berkeley, California, in 1934, and Eggleston in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1939—the two artists came of age outside of the dominant centers of the art world, internalizing the spaces and light of the American West and South. Working in sculpture and photography, respectively, each would go on to break with the practices of their contemporaries and challenge the traditional boundaries of their media in search of a new form of expression. 

 

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Cover video: Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021. Video by Pushpin Films

The 69th Street gallery will be open to the public with a limited number of visitors allowed into the exhibition spaces at a time, in accordance with city guidelines.

 

Tuesday to Friday, advance appointments are recommended but not required.

On Saturdays, the gallery is open by appointment only.

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“If you can think of it, it exists somewhere.”

—From the closing credits of True Stories (1986)

A self-portrait photo by William Eggleston, dated c.1983-1986.

William Eggleston, self-portrait, c.1983–1986

William Eggleston, self-portrait, c.1983–1986

A photo of  John McCracken, in New Mexico, dated 1969.

 John McCracken, New Mexico, 1969 (detail). Photo by Joe Goode

 John McCracken, New Mexico, 1969 (detail). Photo by Joe Goode

True Stories is titled after the 1986 film directed by David Byrne “about a bunch of people in Virgil, Texas.” The film explores a fictional place that touches on a certain American spirit, drawing on Eggleston’s work to help describe what Byrne calls, in the introduction to an accompanying book featuring the artist’s photographs, “an existential landscape.” Much of the film is narrated by Byrne as he drives through Virgil in a Chrysler LeBaron convertible.

An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)
A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled Silver, dated 2006.

John McCracken

Silver, 2006
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
93 1/8 x 17 x 3 3/4 inches (236.5 x 43.2 x 9.5 cm)

“It is easy to suppose that few people realize on that occasion, which comes to all of us, when we look at the blue sky for the first time, that is to say: not merely see it, but look at it and experience it and for the first time have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetry, a geography that would be intolerable except for the non-geography that exists there—few people realize that they are looking at the world of their own thoughts and the world of their own feelings.”

—Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination, 1951

A photo of John McCracken with one of his plank sculptures, dated 1996.

John McCracken near his studio in New Mexico, 1996

John McCracken near his studio in New Mexico, 1996

“My imagination, for one [impacted my development as an artist], and my interests in psychology, metaphysics …, cosmology, and UFOs.… I wasn’t exactly a voracious reader, but I read books that involved frontiers.”

—John McCracken, interview with Matthew Higgs, 2005

An untitled polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, dated 1968.

John McCracken

Untitled, 1968
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
11 1/4 x 12 x 8 3/4 inches (28.6 x 30.5 x 22.2 cm)
An installation view of an exhibition titled William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, at David Zwirner New York, in 2021.

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

“The world is in color. And there’s nothing we can do about that.”

—William Eggleston, interview with Ute Eskildsen, 1996

An untitled stainless steel sculpture by John McCracken, dated 2011.

John McCracken

Untitled, 2011
Stainless steel
93 3/4 x 14 5/8 x 1 3/8 inches (238.1 x 37.1 x 3.5 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)

“I make real, physical forms, but they’re made out of color, which as a quality is at the outset abstract. I try to use color as if it were a material; I make a sculpture out of, say, ‘red’ or ‘blue.’ So my interest in having a piece look not only conventionally physical, but also in the next moment having it look like it could be something imagined, almost a hallucination, is well served by using color.”

—John McCracken, interview with Frances Colpitt, 2011

A photo of John McCracken working on a sculpture in his studio.

John McCracken in his studio, c. 1989

John McCracken in his studio, c. 1989

“I almost thought of them [the planks] as being like strokes of color in space, just like a brushstroke.”

—John McCracken, interview with Judith Richards, 2010

An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 63 3/8 x 45 inches (161 x 114.3 cm)

“The shining colors of the cars in a parking lot compete with the sunshine glinting off hoods and quarter panels.… [Eggleston’s] hard architecture of splendid colors, flattened and floating in the sky, vividly shows—and appreciates—the American hubris of eternal disposability. He notes how the tastes of the moment … cast themselves in immortal terms.”

—Alexander Nemerov, “This Pretty World: William Eggleston’s Photographs,” in William Eggleston: The Democratic Forest, Selected Works, 2016

A detail from a self-portrait by William Eggleston, dated circa 1967–1970.

William Eggleston, self-portrait, c. 1967–1970 (detail)

William Eggleston, self-portrait, c. 1967–1970 (detail)

“Thus appeared a sort of typology of the elements of the ‘novel’ the artist was beginning to construct: the bars, the gas stations, the cars, the ghostly figures adrift in space.”

 —Agnès Sire, “The Invention of Language,” in William Eggleston: From Black and White to Color, Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, 2014

A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled Think Pink, dated 1967.

John McCracken

Think Pink, 1967
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
104 1/2 x 18 1/8 x 3 1/8 inches (265.4 x 46 x 7.9 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1983-1986.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1983-1986
Pigment print
Framed: 29 1/8 x 20 3/4 inches (74 x 52.7 cm)

“I see the plank as existing between two worlds, … the floor representing the physical world of standing objects, trees, cars, buildings, [and] human bodies, … and the wall representing the world of the imagination, illusionist painting space, [and] human mental space.”

—John McCracken, interview with Thomas Kellein, 1995

A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled 12-IV, dated 1971.

John McCracken

12-IV, 1971
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
12 x 12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
An installation view of an exhibition titled William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, at David Zwirner New York, in 2021.

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

“[In Eggleston’s photographs] there’s a mood … of a mysteriously abandoned world—depleted by radiation, perhaps, or disease—where objects are intact, the signs of recent departure evident, where the eyes of some lowly being (perhaps not even a living being, but a surveillance camera, a robot) freeze and click on the artifacts of a vanished civilization.”


—Donna Tartt, “Portfolio: William Eggleston,” Artforum, 2001

A detail from a photograph by William Eggleston, called Untitled, dated c. 1973-1978.

William Eggleston, Untitled, c. 1973-1978 (detail)

William Eggleston, Untitled, c. 1973-1978 (detail)

“In addition to likening them to humans, McCracken described his slotted sculptures prosaically as ‘two-sided, front and back. Like people, buildings, houses, cabinets, refrigerators, ovens, hi-fi, electrical components, cars & trucks, safes, heaters, display cases, etc.,’ and more succinctly as ‘mystery containers.’ … He wrote, ‘Interesting idea: these are beings of another world transmitting themselves here through me. Don’t ask me why they’re here.’”

—Robin Clark, “Thresholds,” in John McCracken: Works from 1963–2011, 2014

An untitled polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture, titled Untitled (Red Plank), by John McCracken, dated 1976.

John McCracken

Untitled (Red Plank), 1976
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
84 1/8 x 12 x 1 1/4 inches (213.7 x 30.5 x 3.2 cm)

“I think I had often wondered what other things see—if they saw like we see. And I’ve tried to make a lot of different photographs as if a human did not take them.… Maybe something took them that was not merely confined to walking on the earth. And I can’t fly, but I can make experiments.”

—William Eggleston, quoted in Thomas Weski, “‘I Can’t Fly, but I Can Make Experiments,’” in William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961–2008, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2008

An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)
An installation view of an exhibition titled William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, at David Zwirner New York, in 2021.

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Learn More about the Artists

An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 63 3/8 x 45 inches (161 x 114.3 cm)
A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled Silver, dated 2006.

John McCracken

Silver, 2006
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
93 1/8 x 17 x 3 3/4 inches (236.5 x 43.2 x 9.5 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 inches (114.3 x 160 cm)
A lacquer, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled Untitled (Red Block), dated 1966.

John McCracken

Untitled (Red Block), 1966
Lacquer, fiberglass, and plywood
8 x 11 x 10 inches (20.3 x 27.9 x 25.4 cm)
A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled 12-IV, dated 1971.

John McCracken

12-IV, 1971
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
12 x 12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)
An untitled polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, dated 1976.

John McCracken

Untitled, 1976
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
84 x 12 x 1 1/4 inches (213.4 x 30.5 x 3.2 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973-1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 61 x 45 inches (154.9 x 114.3 cm)
An untitled polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture, titled Untitled (Red Plank), by John McCracken, dated 1976.

John McCracken

Untitled (Red Plank), 1976
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
84 1/8 x 12 x 1 1/4 inches (213.7 x 30.5 x 3.2 cm)
An untitled polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, dated 1968.

John McCracken

Untitled, 1968
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
11 1/4 x 12 x 8 3/4 inches (28.6 x 30.5 x 22.2 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1983-1986.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1983-1986
Pigment print
Framed: 29 1/8 x 20 3/4 inches (74 x 52.7 cm)
A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled Think Pink, dated 1967.

John McCracken

Think Pink, 1967
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
104 1/2 x 18 1/8 x 3 1/8 inches (265.4 x 46 x 7.9 cm)
An untitled pigment print by William Eggleston, circa 1973 to 1978.

William Eggleston

Untitled, c. 1973-1978
Pigment print
Framed: 45 x 63 3/8 inches (114.3 x 161 cm)
A polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood sculpture by John McCracken, titled John, dated 1967.

John McCracken

John, 1967
Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood
8 1/2 x 9 x 6 3/4 inches (21.6 x 22.9 x 17.1 cm)
An untitled stainless steel sculpture by John McCracken, dated 2011.

John McCracken

Untitled, 2011
Stainless steel
93 3/4 x 14 5/8 x 1 3/8 inches (238.1 x 37.1 x 3.5 cm)

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          True Stories

          William Eggleston and John McCracken

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