A Colorful Encounter: When William Eggleston met Henri Cartier-Bresson
posted Friday, June 14, 2013 at 2:44 PM EDT
Though he's a bit on the reclusive side, 73-year-old American photographer William Eggleston sat down for a short interview a few years ago with actress Drew Barrymore (yes, that Drew Barrymore) to discuss his work and his distinctive approach to photography.
Now, there are some who have called Eggleston the "world's greatest photographer," a claim our very own Steve Meltzer addressed in a profile on the photographer, who was born in Memphis, TN and is known for his often bleak, color images of the American south. In the 2011 interview with Barrymore, which was recently dug up by THDC, Eggleston shares an extraordinary anecdote from the time he met famed French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had been an influence on Eggleston. After Eggleston began experimenting with color photography in the mid-1960s, he shook off the influence of Cartier-Bresson, who primarily shot in black-and-white.
Below is the section of the interview where Eggleston discusses meeting his former idol.
William Eggleston: You know, I had a meeting with him [Henri Cartier-Bresson], one in particular, it was at this party in Lyon. Big event, you know. I was seated with him and a couple of women. You’ll never guess what he said to me.
Drew Barrymore: What?
William Eggleston: “William, color is bullshit.” End of conversation. Not another word. And I didn’t say anything back. What can one say? I mean, I felt like saying I’ve wasted a lot of time. As this happened, I’ll tell you, I noticed across the room this really beautiful young lady, who turned out to be crazy. So I just got up, left the table, introduced myself, and I spent the rest of the evening talking to her, and she never told me color was bullshit.