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Memphis
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© Eggleston Artistic Trust

William Eggleston
American, Memphis, Tennessee, about 1965 - 1970
Gelatin silver print
8 13/16 x 13 5/16 in.
2000.41.6

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An older woman stands outside a shopping center near a coin-operated children's ride--a small elephant about half her height. The woman's enormous purse rivals the elephant's platform in size. By using a wide-angle lens and a close-up perspective in this photograph, William Eggleston enhanced his subject's awkwardness. Through such distortions, it may have been his goal to make the commonplace--people and things at a mini-mall--seem out of place.

As Curator John Szarkowski of New York's Museum of Modern Art observed in his introduction to William Eggleston's Guide, "the design of most of the pictures seem to radiate from a central, circular core." Elevated on his stage and centered in the frame, the elephant is, absurdly, the star of this scene. Parallel lines from the shopping center's overhang appear to radiate from it, while the woman and a mailbox balance the composition on either side.