Eggleston at Auction

A little while back I went to the preview for an auction of William Eggleston prints at Christie’s, a sale that was arranged to benefit the Eggleston Artistic Trust. It was a particu;arly interesting event for me for a few different reasons. First because I absolutely love Eggleston’s photography (and the man is one of my favorite living artists), and also because the auction consisted of large format digital pigment prints, a rare departure from the dye-transfer prints that helped solidify him as one of American’s greatest photographers.

To see many of these iconic images in person for the first time – and to actually see Mr. Eggleston himself – was truly special for me. It turns out, the auction wasn’t just special to me; the sale raised nearly six million dollars for the trust, with the iconic tricycle image (Untitled, 1970) selling for an astonishing $578,500 alone. Incredible to see so much interest in Eggleston’s work, though nothing surprising when you consider the iconic nature of the Tennessee native’s photographs.

The man himself, photo by John Tinseth as I was too coy to do it myself.


Comments on “Eggleston at Auction

    Mike on March 16, 2012 10:49 AM:

    Love the shot of the Weber grill….

    Caleb @ TEM on March 16, 2012 10:59 AM:

    LOVE Eggleston. There was a great exhibit here at the Art Institute recently that I must have visited a dozen times.

    Martin on March 16, 2012 11:24 AM:

    what did you think of the digital prints? Probably no discernable difference right?

    1 Last Year on March 16, 2012 1:08 PM:

    I like the grill picture too…..especially with the light coming from behind, you can tell it’s just before sun down. Grilling at that time is the best. It’s when things seem most quiet.

    Jason on March 16, 2012 4:40 PM:

    When I was in art school for photography I struggled with Eggleston… I wasn’t sure if it fell into what we could call “art” or what it meant for fine-art photography. As I’ve aged I’ve come to love his work above just about anyone else’s. I think it needs some perspective, some age, and some of the bittersweet nostalgia of lost youth to really sink in. It helps that I’m from the south and have moved north, so my nostalgia and longing for home in another time line up well.

    matthew langley on March 16, 2012 7:20 PM:

    @Martin – I’d be really surprised that theres very little difference. I’d be far more inclined to believe that there is a world of difference. Dye-transfer is such a unique process, that it is far different that printing a composite image digitally.

    That said, I’m sure these are some amazing digital prints just the same.

    Andy on March 17, 2012 10:02 AM:

    I also think the documentary about him showed him to be a unique man marching to his own drummer, a great observer, and artist.

    JRS on March 17, 2012 4:46 PM:

    I really like that ‘Peaches!’ photo – it would be perfect down here in Georgia…

    hector on March 18, 2012 9:41 AM:

    this is photography as nostalgia of and for america, which is then seen through the suspicious lens of “art”

    Noah on March 18, 2012 10:46 PM:

    Very nice. If you haven’t already you need to watch this. (Oxford American)

    Matt on March 21, 2012 12:45 PM:

    I actually popped into the auction as I’m a big fan and wanted to see how it turned out and it was great to see the most anticipated ones go for 3x estimate. A handful of his photos are in the Christie’s general photo auction in April and it will be interesting to see how they are valued, as the (low-ish) estimates were printed well before this auction significantly outperformed.

    Andrew M on March 22, 2012 7:23 PM:

    @hector — I don’t see this photography as “nostalgic” of and for America. Eggleston has been taking photos since the 1960s and that is what the American South looks like. It still looks like this in major cities, like Memphis or Atlanta, and everywhere in between. If you check out his book of photos from Paris (simply titled “Paris”) I think you will see that what defines his work, and why so many who sing his praises, is his distinct eye. And to even see it from your perspective, this argument makes as much sense as saying that Cartier-Bresson’s work is “nostalgic of and for France”. It may or may not be the artist’s intent, but it is not “suspicious” and it does not disqualify the work as art, no matter how much you dislike it.

    Joe on March 23, 2012 8:46 AM:

    I think ‘Iconic’ defines this photographer. There seems to be a consistency of both simplicity and ‘vintage’ aesthetic which can only be achieved through a refined eye for detail. I personally love his work.

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