Friday, October 10, 2008

Christie's William Eggleston Auction Catalog

For those of you who may want to pull your money from failing banks, soon you will have the option to tie all of your savings up into William Eggleston prints. On Monday October 13th, Christie's will hold an auction dedicated entirely to the Eggleston prints currently in the Bruce and Nancy Berman collection. A handsome catalog presenting the lots is now available.

Much like the catalogs dedicated to the Robert Frank sale a few months back and the couple recently auctioning Diane Arbus prints, these are more like mini monographs than a typical catalog. This one is over 90 pages worth of images that must run into the hundreds - several of which I hadn't seen before. Most of these are attributed to a series called Dust Bells Volumes I & II. It is an amazing collection of a wide variety of work.

Through a series of foldouts, the lots are presented with estimates - some reaching astronomical figures as might be expected from the rise in popularity of Eggleston. Most interestingly of which are the five Los Alamos portfolios which include 75 dye transfer prints and valued at $350,000-550,000.

My personal favorite Eggleston image -- Sumner, Mississippi, 1972 -- which describes two men, one white one black, standing in a wood near a white car is estimated to set me back $50,000-70,000 for a dye transfer printed in 1999.

Lot 113 offers an interesting sister image to his famous red ceiling photograph -- describing another light bulb backed by a ceiling of badly warped plywood. Both were taken the same year, 1973. This one is valued at a modest $8,000-12,000.

There is no chance of my participating but I may go to watch to see if there is any sign of the recent economic rollercoaster. There certainly weren't any signs during the last rare photobook auction but then again, the world has drawn a little closer to the apocalypse since then.

Christie's William Eggleston Auction


Anonymous said...

Some of the images in the Dust Bells portfolios (there are two volumes) can be seen at (along with all of Eggleston's other portfolios).

The title Dust Bells came from the name of a sound patch on one Eggleston's synthesizers.

There is an even more compelling "sister image" to the famous "Red Ceiling"--it's a "Blue Ceiling," shot in the same house. I hope it's printed someday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Christian for the information!

Anonymous said...

" the world has drawn a little closer to the apocalypse since then."??? Oh, Jeffrey! Oh, Jeffrey! Doncha' not wanna be a HATER? Don't talk apocalypse outside of church, K.? Don't be a Eastern Media Elite Hater, K.? I might just hafta get Todd to set his sled up and we'll come down and field dress yer bum knee, betcha that'd hurt, yah? We love ya honey, please come back! Mi tanning bed es su tanning bed! Retouch me or die!

Anonymous said...

I failed to mention that the Whitney Museum's new Eggleston retrospective book is finished, though not easy to find at this point. It looks pretty great. That'll be one of the books to get this fall.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Splendid.
I sometimes think I'm getting fed up with W.E., partly because of his followers, but there is always something that reminds me how bright he was, and still is.

Anonymous said...


I recently saw a copy of the WE Whitney catalog that came through the Strand as I guess an advance/review copy.It looks really good but I have to say that my first impression was that some of the reproductions looked a bit sketchy. Have you spent any time with the book? Looks chock full of information.

Adam McAnaney said...

Thanks for this post, but.... I couldn't tell what you thought of the catalog itself. Is it worth the money? How are the reproductions?


Anonymous said...


I hope you get elected if just for the prospect of four years of amazing Onion headlines. I'm an east coast elite America hater...humor is my only savior.

Anonymous said...

Adam,'s a Christie's catalog so it isn't of artbook quality. The reproductions in these catalogs tend to be pretty good. They do tend to be expensive ($40.00) but you can often find them second hand. Admittedly I have only ever paid full price for one on the first photobook auction. The rest I have gotten cheaply second hand.

Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see what these go for.
I love the cover image - the shot of a drinking glass on an aeroplane tray.

Michael W

Anonymous said...

BS: The one with the light bulb and the ceiling with the sort of wood grain treatment seems like a direct counterpart to The Red Ceiling.

WE: They were taken years apart and without any thought about any connection. They just both happen to be of ceilings and light bulbs. But they couldn't be more different in every other way…

From an interview here:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when and where the Robert Frank auction was? I would love to get a copy of the auction catalog.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous:

Maybe you are thinking of the auction at Christie's New York on October 17 last year? About half of the 37 lots were Robert Frank photographs. I have never heard of an auction with only RF photos. Every season, there a number of RF items for sale at most of the acution houses. There are currently nine Robert Frank photographs on view today from 1 to 5 pm and tomorrow from 10 until noon that will be auctioned on October 14th at Christie's New York.

There are posts about last year's auction on this blog under September and October 2007.

Anonymous said...

To Philips interview link....the photos are very different but they were taken the same year according to the listed dates.

Anonymous said...


Lot 113 The picture of the ceiling, sold for $16,250.

Lot 136 Sumner, Mississippi that you mention sold for $110,500.

Lot 144 Los Alamos portfolio sold for $1,022,500.

Anonymous said...

The prices for the most part do not reflect any economic

Many went for much higher than the highest estimate. Almost 3 million total.