From Amy Touchette’s article “A Quick History of Color Photography (for Photographers)” for tuts+:
As a fine art medium, color photography was slowly brought into the fold. Notable advances were made by Ernst Haas, who was bridging the gap between pure photojournalism and photography by using color photography as a creative, expressive medium. As mentioned, Life (and Vogue) had already published Haas’s color photojournalism, and in 1962, the Museum of Modern Art profiled Haas in its first single-artist exhibition of color photography.
It was more than a decade later when the Museum of Modern Art exhibited William Eggleston’s color photographs. Eggleston had been introduced to color photography by American photographer, painter, and sculptor William Christenberry—yet another photographer deliberately using color photography as an expressive medium. Eggleston’s particular interest was in using dye-transfer printing, a method widely used for advertising materials. Eggleston was drawn to the rich, deep colors he could create with the dye-transfer technique. Although the Eggleston exhibit wasn’t the museum’s first color photography show, it did signal color photography’s arrival and is credited with legitimizing color photography in the fine art world.