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William Christenberry, Processing, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, 1966, pigment print, 11-7/8" × 18" (30.2 cm × 45.7 cm), image, 16" × 22" (40.6 cm × 55.9 cm), paper © Estate of William Christenberry

William Christenberry

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© Chan Chao

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b. November 5, 1936
d. November 28, 2016

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@williamchristenberryofficial

William Christenberry received a BFA and MFA in painting from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Following a 1961 meeting with Walker Evans, whose photographic portrait of Alabama sharecroppers during the Great Depression, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, deeply impacted Christenberry, he began to seriously pursue photography over his early explorations in abstract painting.

During annual pilgrimages to his native Hale County, Alabama, Christenberry recorded the changing appearance of the region's natural landscape and vernacular architecture in diverse formats and media for nearly five decades. Recognized as a pioneer in color photography, his images of rusted signage, winding dirt roads, and the weathered exteriors of humble structures present, with deceiving formal simplicity, prolonged studies of place that chronicle the passage of time in the rural South. Christenberry's most frequent subjects, such as Coleman's Cafe, Sprott Church, and the Palmist Building – often photographed straight-on and near the center of the frame – assume an iconic quality within his oeuvre as monuments of a disappearing past.

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William Christenberry, Palmist Building (Summer), Havana Junction, Alabama, 1980, pigment print, 26-5/8" × 34-1/8" (67.6 cm × 86.7 cm), image 32" × 40" (81.3 cm × 101.6 cm), paper © William Christenberry

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William Christenberry, House and Car, near Akron, Alabama, 1981, pigment print, 27" × 34" (68.6 cm × 86.4 cm), image 32" × 40" (81.3 cm × 101.6 cm), paper© William Christenberry

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William Christenberry, Green Warehouse, Newbern, Alabama, 1973-2004, twenty-one Ektacolor prints, 3-3/8" × 5" (8.6 cm × 12.7 cm), each image, 8" × 10" (20.3 cm × 25.4 cm), each paper © Estate of William Christenberry

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William Christenberry, Double Cola Sign, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, 1966, pigment print, 6-5/8" × 10" (16.8 cm × 25.4 cm), image 11" × 14" (27.9 cm × 35.6 cm), paper © William Christenberry

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William Christenberry, 5 Cent, Demopolis, Alabama, 1978, pigment print mounted to Dibond, image, 39 1/4 x 49 1/2 inches paper and mount, 42 7/8 x 53 inches frame, 44 x 54 x 1 5/8 inches © William Christenberry