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
Image credits: Photographs by William Eggleston/Eggleston Artistic Trust