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William Eggleston has asserted that the subjects of his photographs don’t matter—a “democratic” approach in which every target of his lens is as worthy as any other. But for every stunning array of white extension cords attached to a blinding, blood-red ceiling and every Weber grill burning ominously in the driveway, there are head-scratching banalities for which the emperor seems to have no clothes: the inside of an oven, the inside of a freezer, a pile of overstuffed trash bags. Still, the exhibit demonstrates Eggleston’s gifts as a color photographer, someone able to channel ethereality from subjects as diverse and unlikely as a corrugated-roof peach stand, an elaborate gate at Graceland, and an old-fashioned kitchen. He’s best at depicting specific places in his native South—the sleepy porches and tumbledown basketball hoops of Plains, Ga.; the mysterious yet inescapable unease of a black man and a white man standing near a Mississippi bayou. Though Eggleston urges viewers not to search for meaning in his photographs, a better rule is to do so—selectively.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON DISPLAY WEDNESDAYS, FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS, and SUNDAYS, 10 A.M.-5 P.M., AND THURSDAYS, 10 A.M.-9 P.M., TO SEPT. 20 AT THE CORCORAN, 500 17TH ST. NW, $8–$10. (202) 639-1700.