Los Alamos
by Walter Hopps


While driving through New Mexico in 1973, William Eggleston stopped at Los Alamos, the forested site of the atomic bomb's clandestine development. He chose Los Alamos as the title for a sprawling body of work then nearing competion: approximately twenty-two hundred images photographed between 1966 and 1974. This title cloaks with some irony Eggleston's ostensible subjects, found in a vast American terrain, yet acknowledges his belief in the aesthetic consequences of his private quest.

The photographs that make up this selection from Los Alamos begin at the beginning, with the first color photograph Eggleston made, of a grocery clerk pushing a shopping cart; include the center of his world--Memphis and the Mississippi Delta; trace his travels west from New Orleans to Las Vegas and southern California; and end on the Santa Monica Pier.

That day in New Mexico, passing through the pinon woods of the Jemez Mountains, past the guard gates of the National Laboratory, Eggleston turned with a small smile and said, 'You know, I'd like to have a secret lab like that myself.' It seems clear from the investigations collected in Los Alamos that he already had found the key to his proper place of research.