Wlliam Eggleston might be one of the only Americans to call 2016 a great year. That's in large part because he doesn’t vote, a decision the legendary photographer made decades ago. “The last person I would have [voted for] was JFK,” he quipped in his signature Southern drawl in a suite at the Bowery Hotel in New York last week. “But between then and now I didn’t care for the candidates.”
“This year, everything’s coming together,” he said in almost the same breath, about the happy synchronicity of his being honored at the Aperture Foundation’s annual fall benefit, his new exhibition at David Zwirner gallery and re-edition of The Democratic Forest from David Zwirner Books — all this week — and, finally, his good friend Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize. When I noted that no one has been able to reach Dylan about the prize, Eggleston only said, “That’s typical.” They, of course, haven’t spoken about it, either. “I wish he’d call up,” he added.
Eggleston, however, isn’t one to miss a party. He was in New York from Memphis for a week of dinners, book signings, and events: Monday was Aperture’s benefit dedicated to his pioneering use of color in photography; tomorrow is the opening of his Zwirner exhibition. At 77, he’s still precise about his words and his time. He qualifies nearly all of his answers to questions with some variation of: “From what I know…,” “I suppose,” “I guess,” “Probably,” “Practically,” “Maybe,” or “I don’t think so.” And if he agrees or disagrees, he just might say nothing at all. You could mix a drink during one of his pauses.