Presenting for the first time this major body of paintings and constructions, The Early Years places Christenberry's work and his life in the South in significant new context. Nationally recognized as an artist, photographer, teacher, and arts advocate, William Christenberry has lived and worked in Washington, D.C., since 1968, when he became a professor of painting at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art. Although Christenberry is well known as a photographer and sculptor, relatively little has been known about his early paintings and his career in the South prior to 1968. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1936, Christenberry is closely identified with the culture and environment of his native South, specifically with the region around Hale County, Alabama, the same region memorialized by James Agee and Walker Evans in the classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. That book, first discovered by Christenberry when it was reissued in 1960, served as a major influence upon his early aesthetic development, including the creation of his ""Tenant House"" series of paintings, photographs, and studies (1960-1964). Throughout The Early Years, Christenberry's work is presented as part of an evolutionary series of developments that began with Christenberry's immersion in the Abstract Expressionist philosophies and techniques taught at The University of Alabama during his years as a student there (1954-1959) and continued through his abandonment of painting on canvas (1964) and his inclusion of signs and found objects in the three-dimensional constructions he created in Memphis (1964-1968).. Many of the pieces featured in The Early Years were in storage in Christenberry's attic for nearly three decades. Now part of a national touring exhibition, they richly deserve the close attention J. Richard Gruber here gives them.