PetaPixel

William Eggleston Digital Pigment Prints Fetch $5.9 Million at Auction

36 of American photographer William Eggleston‘s digital pigment prints were auctioned off at Christie’s on Monday, fetching a whopping $5.9 million — far more than the $2.7M they were expected to sell for. Eggleston is credited with helping making color photography a legitimate artistic medium for galleries, which had previously favored B&W prints. A print of Eggleston’s “Memphis (Tricycle)” (shown above) was the top seller after being snatched up for $578,500.

Joshua Holdeman, director at Christie’s photo department, says that the purpose of the sale was to bring Eggleston’s work into the mainstream art world:

Eggleston has been kind of stuck in the old school world of the photography collectors for a long time, whose primary concerns are about process, print type, print date, etcetera. [...] for contemporary art collectors it’s much more about the object itself—they couldn’t care if it’s a dye transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that’s what they care about.

This is an attempt to start a migration of Eggleston from the quote unquote confines of the photography world into the larger context of the art world. I think it was probably the most important event for Eggleston in a long, long time. [#]

Here are some of the other top sellers at the auction:

Untitled, 1973 — Sold for $422,500

Untitled, c 1971-1974 — Sold for $386,500

Untitled, 1973 — Sold for $386,500

Untitled, c 1971-1974 — Sold for $362,500

(via Christie’s via PDNOnline)


Image credits: Photographs by William Eggleston/Eggleston Artistic Trust


 
  • OSAM

    WUT :|

  • http://twitter.com/JacksonCheese Jackson Cheese

    Rule #1 to selling art: Price it high, and they will buy.

  • http://about.me/bmwgeek Dave Reynolds

    After reading several articles about pictures that have fetched high prices in auctions ( including PetaPixels’ post of the sale of Gursky photo of the Rhine for $4.3M), I have come to the conclusion that photography collectors have absolutely no sense of what makes a photograph compelling, much less worth exorbitant amounts of money.

  • jojomojo12345

     duh

  • jdm8

    “Eggleston is credited with helping making color photography a legitimate
    artistic medium for galleries, which had previously favored B&W
    prints.”

    To me, that’s just the oddest thing, and possibly hypocritical.  The art world presents itself as favoring avant-garde work but often takes the longest to accept an update or addition to their preferred mediums.

  • Tzctplus -

    Please …. that simply sounds as sour grapes.

  • http://about.me/bmwgeek Dave Reynolds

     I have a job. I’m a good enough photographer where people like my stuff but not good enough where people will pay me for it. I prefer it that way because I like photography as a creative outlet rather than a livelihood. So, nice try but sour grapes is not in play here.

  • Steve

    I don’t like the photos much but I’m pleased to see them making lots of money.  There’s lots of paintings that sell for millions that don’t work for me, why should photography be any different?

  • Arlen C. Nimrod
  • http://twitter.com/willbldrco Will Thornburg

    Ummm…  I don’t think you’re supposed to actually type “quote unquote” when quoting someone saying that. ;)  They are just indicating where you should put the quote marks.

  • Damiamonsivais

    Seems you have not studied the History of photography, its a fairly new medium in the world of art.

  • Damiamonsivais

    Seems you have not studied Eggleston or Gursky thoroughly. Photographs like Gursky’s and Eggleston embrace their makers ideas. In a world full of an infinite flow of useless meaningless images, those with an idea will flourish.

  • jdm8

    That doesn’t explain why art galleries were slow to accept the medium. Shouldn’t they be the quickest?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/U76ZOSG3RJYHED2EF3OFZGOR7E Sarah

    It wasn’t art galleries that are poping up in every corner but it was
    The Museum Of Modern Art in New York where John Szarkowski singled out
    William Eggleston as the father of COLOR photography and exhibited his
    work in the first ever one man show in the space

  • Just Visiting

    That tricycle picture has an overexposed sky… 

  • MM

    Your comment is the perfect illustration of the “art = technique” attitude.

  • Chimpunk2009

    The important point is that his sales were constrained by the number of dye-transfer prints out there. Now the dealer can make a ton of money with inkjet prints. I’m honestly appalled by this.

  • Oz Baz

    One thing that is often lost in these discussions is how amazing prints can look in the flesh (so to speak). Computer screens do not do justice to even 35mm let alone large format negatives/slides esp. when they are  converted to very large prints.  Check out Eggleston’s work in a gallery or even a well done book. There are alot of technically well done photographs out there which are quite cliche (I am talking ND filter and flowing water here!).  

    Up until these guys adopted colour in the 70′s the “serious” art photography was all black and white.  What is also important are the ideas behind the shots.

  • Thefinalsound

     The dye transfer process the originals were printed with had a limited maximum print dimension. These are not just inkjets that they are going to keep printing off, they are in an edition of two prints per image at something like 40×60”. The second print of each edition will also not be sold for three years. If a person or institution were interested (and a LOT are) in having one of these seminal images in an enormous beautiful print this basically the only way it will ever happen. No they aren’t vintage dye transfer prints, but they are massive, very rare, more archival than the originals, and they take a great deal of skill to produce. These shouldn’t be thought of as throwaway inkjet prints.

  • Glyndavid

    I wonder what the starving in Africa, or anywhere else, think of all this

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PF7HKQV3CKQSXHMOQEPUYWTZWQ WHATEVER

    MORONS

  • Jeff Mckeown

    I guess it doesn’t matter if the photographs are ok at best. The artsy fartsy elite put this extravagant value simply because they have nothing better to do with their money. When you look at these and ask yourself what’s so special about these, the answer really is nothing. Their fine photos. But 100′s of thousands of dollars?? Please.

  • Dana_pekarchick

    They say “art is in the eyes of the beholder”…but no way would I pay that amount of money for a picture…even one by Ansel Adams because I don’t have that kind of money to fritter away!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottMichaelHarris Scott Michael Harris

    Art is a game. Things are worth whatever an artist or their manager can convince people it’s worth. It’s all subjective. 1000′s of artists have talent. Only an exclusive few understand how to get out there and give buyers the drama and showmanship they want.

    There is no right or wrong. It’s simply up the the creator to decide what scale their work is on, and then make others see it.

    If you question Eggleston’s methods or talents, I don’t have much faith in your work making a dime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottMichaelHarris Scott Michael Harris

    Art is a game. Things are worth whatever an artist or their manager can convince people it’s worth. It’s all subjective. 1000′s of artists have talent. Only an exclusive few understand how to get out there and give buyers the drama and showmanship they want.

    There is no right or wrong. It’s simply up the the creator to decide what scale their work is on, and then make others see it.

    If you question Eggleston’s methods or talents, I don’t have much faith in your work making a dime.

  • Max

    I wouldn’t pay that amount of money, but I also don’t have that amount. I don’t usually take into account what an artists BS explanation is in order to let the work stand on its own (which it should be able to do). These do. They are exceptional photographs (although I don’t “get” why the peaches one is particularly nice). They have something about them that just oozes serenity/class/sex den respectively. I like them.

  • http://www.robertalanclayton.com/ Robert Clayton

    Art is in the eye of the beholder. The fact that Eggleston used a camera as his media of choice makes no difference what so ever. Great art is simply that, great art. You like it you don’t like it, so be it, that’s art. I love his art.

  • MM

    Maybe they think, “I’m glad that art collector isn’t keeping his money in a vault, but instead circulating it a bit so maybe it will reach someone who wants to help the less fortunate.”

  • Damianmonisvais

     Not Art just photographs

  • photophile

    “but not good enough where people will pay me for it”

    It’s pretty sad that you don’t want to improve your own photographic skills. Having a high skill level in photography can get people’s attention and make them want to pay you for it, of course. But more importantly, it allows you to make the photo that you want, when you want, in any situation.

    Imagine how sad you will be the next time you drive/hike/fly somewhere and encounter an unbelievable scene, but are unable to capture it the way you want to, just because you never bother to increase your skills.

    Learn! It makes photography more fun!

  • http://about.me/bmwgeek Dave Reynolds

    I’m not sure how the commenters here have taken my criticism of the prevailing market value of Eggleston’s work and my lack of desire to be a professional photographer as the basis to conclude I do not grow as a photographer and that I am incapable of capturing an image that pleases me. Very strange reasoning skills here.

  • photophile

    I actually based most of my reply on the “I prefer it that way” statement. I took it to mean that you don’t want to grow as a photographer for the sole purpose of avoiding paying jobs. At least that what it sounds like when I read it.

    Anyway, my replies have nothing to do with the above article.