Untitled (cocktail on airplane)

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  • Condition Report

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York

  • Literature

    Thames & Hudson, William Eggleston, p. 90
    Scalo, William Eggleston: Los Alamos, p. 99, variant
    Whitney Museum of American Art, William Eggleston: Democratic Camera: Photographs and Video, 1961-2008, pl. 43, variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    With the nonchalance of a snapshot, William Eggleston perfectly captured the heavenly ease of a drink on a plane: blue sky, room to one’s own, light shining in, bourbon on ice. Though taken in the 1970s when flying was a luxury, the congeniality of this photograph is timeless. The radiance of a moment that Eggleston seems to capture off-handedly in this picture is the hallmark of his style. As Peter Schjeldahl brilliantly observed, ‘The hour on Eggleston’s clock is always right now.’

    It is highly unusual for Eggleston to have printed variants of his work. But in the case of this masterpiece we know of two versions of the image: that offered here, in which the hand holding the swizzle stick tilts forward; and a variant frame in which the hand tilts slightly back. Both closely-linked photographs capture the same personally resonant details and awaken a Proustian moment: padded seat, window to the sky, plastic glass filled with bourbon over ice. Both are classic Eggleston: timeless and egalitarian in their life-is-in-color depiction of that which we all know.

  • Artist Bio

    William Eggleston

    American • 1939

    William Eggleston's highly saturated, vivid images, predominantly capturing the American South, highlight the beauty and lush diversity in the unassuming everyday. Although influenced by legends of street photography Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston broke away from traditional black and white photography and started experimenting with color in the late 1960s.

    At the time, color photography was widely associated with the commercial rather than fine art — something that Eggleston sought to change. His 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Color Photographs, fundamentally shifted how color photography was viewed within an art context, ushering in institutional acceptance and helping to ensure Eggleston's significant legacy in the history of photography.

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Untitled (cocktail on airplane)

circa 1971-1974
Chromogenic print, printed later.
13 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (34.3 x 23.5 cm)
Signed in ink on the verso.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 14 October 2020