William Eggleston - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Cronin Gallery, Houston
    Christie's New York, 27 April 2004, lot 165

  • Exhibited

    William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008,Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 7 November 2008- 25 January 2009 and 4 other venues
    for this portfolio exhibited

    William Eggleston, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris, 12 November 2001- 24 February 2002; Hayward Gallery, London, 11 July- 22 September 2002
    Color After Klein, Barbican Art Galleries, London, 26 May- 11 September 2005
    for another portfolio exhibited

  • Literature

    Barbican Art Gallery, Colour After Klein, n.p.
    Bischoff, Troubled Waters: 12 Still Lifes from the Siemens Photography Collection, Pinakothek der Moderne, n.p.
    Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris, William Eggleston, p. 129
    Hasselblad Center,William Eggleston: The Hasselblad Award 1998, back cover, and n.p.
    Holborn, William Eggleston: Ancient and Modern, pls. 34, 36, 62, 64 and 67
    Whitney Museum of American Art, William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008, pls. 38, 39, 40, 41 and 85

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1976, the Museum of Modern Art, under John Szarkowski’s venerable directorship, dedicated its ­first solo show to a color photographer, William Eggleston. The choice was grounded in controversy for its sharp divergence from the previously held tenets of ­ne art photography. That is, up until then, for a photograph to retain an artistic value it was to be printed in black and white, be deliberate in its cropping, and have a central subject. Eggleston, however, challenged all three tenets, producing images that were saturated in color, seemingly accidental in their cropping, and unabashedly banal. In doing so, Eggleston demanded that the parameters de­fining fi­ne art photography be expanded to include a far greater repertoire. “I want to make a picture that could stand on its own”, he once noted, “regardless of what it was a picture of.” Indeed, over the course of his career, Eggleston turned his lens away from the typical photographic trappings and created a cohesive body of work united by his quiet and subversive vision.

    William Eggleston’s Graceland, (lot 13), depicts eleven unexpected views of Elvis’s fabled mansion. Eggleston carefully eschews any of the common tourist baits at the mansion—the Neoclassical façade, the water fountain, the lavish ample entertainment rooms, the elaborate chandeliers, the hall of memorabilia—and instead opts for intimate images, which outside the context of the portfolio, could not have been linked as readily to their point of origin. In that regard, the images off­ered do not reveal a consciousness of the place or a concern with capturing the typical essence of the environment. Collectively, the images celebrate the understated charm in randomness over the overstated grandeur in the hackneyed and familiar. Subverting Henri Cartier-Bresson’s mantra about the decisive moment, Eggleston elevates the anti-climactic to the top, allowing otherwise unnoticed moments to shine simply for existing, no justification needed. As a portfolio, Eggleston’sGracelandpays homage to Elvis in a humble manner, recognizing the appeal in the arbitrary and the plain, subsequently grounding the King in the realm of the pleasingly accessible and approachably banal.

    Eggleston employs a similar approach inthe current lot,Troubled Waters. Once again turning his lens away from full compositions providing few clues regarding context and scale, the portfolio is comprised of fifteen images that range from uncommonly low vantage points of a non-descript living room to a wide-angle view of a closed gas station. The images are insistently untethered to a common theme or location and Eggleston provides no threads connecting one image to the next, forcing viewers to break the conceptual pattern of discovering an underlying narrative and instead focus on the formal qualities belying each work, especially through color. As a result, the inside of a freezer reveals a great subtle variation of the color white, muddy tire marks and potholes become reflective vessels for the colorful sky, and even a heap of refuse becomes a study of volume and composition. As inGraceland, the prints inTroubled Watersare dye-transfer, imbuing each print with strikingly lush color saturation, keeping the viewers eyes as engaged as when the prints were first made and the images first taken.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Troubled Waters

New York: Caldecot Chubb, 1980. 15 dye transfer prints.
Each approximately 11 1/2 x 17 3/8 in. (29.2 x 44.1 cm) or the reverse.
Each signed, numbered '30', consecutively numbered '1-15' in pencil, copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the verso. Number 30 from an edition of 30 plus 5 artist's proofs. Colophon. Contained in a clamshell folio case.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $161,000

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs
+1 212 940 1245


New York 30 September & 1 October 2013