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Book of the Week: A Pick by Jeff Mermelstein

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Jeff Mermelstein Jeff Mermelstein selects The Democratic Forest by William Eggleston as Book of the Week.

The Democratic Forest
By William EgglestonSteidl, 2015.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Jeff Mermelstein who has selected The Democratic Forest by William Eggleston from Steidl.

"Instagram’s veins run out of the heart of William Eggleston. All that is photographically seen in color in America right now bows to the tidal waves of images that Eggleston gifted to us, the people of photography.

William Eggleston is the only photographer to ever have made me cry. In 2002 I walked into the exhibition William Eggleston at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. I became emotionally overwhelmed in the most beautiful way. My mind’s eye filled with the music of a poet who touched the color in our soul, particularly of the South. So original, so honest and so not explainable, this magic touch. I like what I don’t understand. I like what I feel.

Word comes out about Steidl’s set of 10 volumes: The Democratic Forest. I already had three copies of the original Doubleday 1989 version that I picked up at the Strand for $6.95 each way back. This announcement provoked a different kind of intense salivation.

Got it last week, opened last night, went on to the bathroom scale without it and then with it, did the math. Roughly 33 pounds of Eggleston’s world, each page a treasure, each page an important building block and foundation to what so many photographers do today. A father, grandfather and brother he is; I am privileged to own this opus.

So ahead of its time, this Democratic look, this way of photographing democratically. To quote Eggleston when asked what he had been photographing, 'I’ve been outdoors, nowhere in nothing.' 'I am at war with the obvious.' He’s serious, very serious. This set of books is permanently part of me, part of my home, part of what I will do tomorrow."—Jeff Mermelstein

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The Democratic Forest.  By William EgglestonSteidl, 2015.
The Democratic Forest.  By William EgglestonSteidl, 2015.

Jeff Mermelstein, photographer (b. 1957), is the son of Holocaust survivors and lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn, NY. Jeff Mermelstein is the author of three books Sidewalk, No Title Here and Twirl/Run. Jeff Mermelstein is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography in New York.

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