American, Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973
Dye transfer print
13 7/8 x 21 11/16 in.
"The first dyes he had made were of the image of Greenwood Moose Lodge, a sombre, windowless edifice against a blue sky, and The Red Ceiling in 1973. He was so impressed with them that he knew dye-transfers were going to provide him with his medium. He immediately sent Szarkowski a print of The Red Ceiling, which was to become one of his most famous images. The cross of white cable leading to the potent, central light bulb, was what he described as a ‘fly’s eye view’ in the guest room of his friend, a dentist in Greenwood, Mississippi, whose choice of decor included an adjacent blue room; he can be seen naked, his walls daubed with graffiti, in The Guide. The house with the red room was subsequently burned down and his friend murdered, yet far from having any sinister connotation, the red room was immensely pleasing to Eggleston. ‘The Red Ceiling is so powerful, that in fact I’ve never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction,’ Eggleston claimed. ‘When you look at the dye it is like red blood that’s wet on the wall. The photograph was like a Bach exercise for me because I knew that red was the most difficult color to work with. A little red is usually enough, but to work with an entire red surface was a challenge. It was hard to do. I don’t know of any totally red pictures, except in advertising. The photograph is still powerful. It shocks you every time.”
Introduction to Ancient and Modern
by Mark Holborn