William Eggleston: a dedicated auction at Christie’s New York on March 12th. The latest in their series of single-artist sales presents to the market stunning prints by the American master in a new large format. Philippe Garner, Christie’s International Head of Photographs, evokes the qualities that make Eggleston’ work so special:
Here are photographs in which the commonplace becomes strangely compelling; emotionally neutral suburban scenes that might otherwise appear to have little character are transformed by the subtle embrace of a warm, early-evening light; everyday things, including the most banal elements of domestic interiors that would normally fail to attract our attention, let alone our curiosity, succeed in indelibly fixing their forms, and their very existence, in our consciousness. Eggleston’s discreet roving eye moves fluidly through space, lingering briefly and surely to capture the alignment of elements that will constitute a picture that has integrity and quiet expressiveness.
How does one begin to characterise or explain the very particular sensibility expressed in William Eggleston’s photographs? Perhaps there is no adequate verbal equivalent to the pictorial results of this singular photographer’s on-going existential enquiry. His pictures just are – without an evident agenda, yet subtly authoritative in their suggestion of a fatalistic reading of the physical world in all its serendipity and seeming randomness. The distinction between what may be described as ugly or beautiful becomes irrelevant, trivial. These images are softly insistent on being read on their own oblique, unstated terms. Their tenacious subliminal impact has earned an ever-growing appreciation. The photographer gives his audience opportunity to sense his view of the physical world, proposing the elements of a relationship of a very particular order, one that is ever-curious, yet non-judgmental, accepting, and touched with a fine-tuned, one might say poetic susceptibility.
It was Oscar Wilde who proposed the paradox, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, that the true mystery of the world is to be found in its visible, rather than its invisible manifestations. This suggestion would seem to be an apt credo for William Eggleston. His photographs constitute a kind of philosophical statement about the world we have created. He effectively challenges us to take the time to look and reflect afresh. And the more we look, the more rewarding his pictures become. We enter the pictorial spaces Eggleston’s camera describes; and we change pace, slowing down to engage in pictures that can be uncannily absorbing.
William Eggleston’s influence through the years, since his MoMA exhibition of 1976 and the publication of his Guide, has been extraordinarily pervasive, both in the field of still photography and that of cinema. It has frequently been noted that the visual worlds evoked by several eminent contemporary film directors, perhaps most memorably David Lynch, owe a very significant debt to the subtle psychological impact of Eggleston’s images. The recent decision to revisit issues of scale and to greatly increase the format in which he prints his work was a bold but appropriate one for Eggleston. The time was right. The ever-more sophisticated technical resources available today have made it possible for him to achieve large-scale prints of a level of clarity, fidelity and saturation that was inconceivable at the time the photographs were taken. At this, more cinematic scale the pictures invite another level of engagement; they fill our field of vision; they draw us in. We experience the sense of entering Eggleston’s world.
The present selection of prints, embracing some of his most celebrated and emblematic images as well as a telling choice of less familiar subjects, serves as a powerful testimony to the recognition that William Eggleston has justly earned as one of the indisputably relevant visual artists of our time.
Photographic Masterworks by William Eggleston Sold to Benefit The Eggleston Artistic Trust
Monday March 12, 2012
Christie’s New York
20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
Tel: +1 212 636 2000