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Tricycle (Memphis)

ca. 1975, printed 1980 William Eggleston Born: Memphis, Tennessee 1939 dye transfer print sheet: 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Amy Loeserman Klein © Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York 1985.87.12 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

An ordinary tricycle is made monumental in this playful color photograph. Taken from below, it suggests a child’s perspective – elevating this rusty tricycle to a symbol of innocence and freedom. The quiet Memphis suburb in the background typifies the safe neighborhoods where children could spend hours playing after school. This print was made with the expensive and exacting dye imbibition process, which was typically used for fashion and advertising at the time. Eggleston began experimenting with color photography in the mid-1960s. Inspired by trips to a commercial photography lab, he developed an approach that imitates the random, imperfect style of amateur snapshots to describe his immediate surroundings combined with a keen interest in the effects of color.

A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2013


Architecture Exterior - domestic - house

Cityscape - Tennessee - Memphis

Object - toy - bicycle

photography - photoprint


dye transfer

About William Eggleston

Born: Memphis, Tennessee 1939

More works in the collection by
William Eggleston