William Eggleston’s Popularity Has Grave Implications

One of the photos sold at auction. (Photo courtesy of the artist and Christie's)

Over at The Art Newspaper, Charlotte Burns has a story looking at the broader implications of William Eggleston’s successful auction at Christie’s last month, which sold out, all 36 lots, at a total of $5.9 million over a pre-sale high of $3.4 million.

It was so successful, in fact, that Ms. Burns wonders if more photographers might now follow in Mr. Eggleston’s footsteps and print new editions of their popular works. After all, there’s nothing stopping them.

“This whole thing seemed so strange to me… it’s like Diane Arbus (if she were alive) deciding now to reprint her most famous images the size of Gurskys or Demands,” said the art adviser Todd Levin of the Levin Art Group.

According to the New York state law on photography editions, sellers must be clear about edition size. Nonetheless, they need only state the number of multiples that are already in existence. While it is standard practice for sellers to be open about the edition size, the number of artist’s proofs is less commonly disclosed. Sellers must state whether the number of proofs that have already been made “exceeds the number in the limited edition by 20 or 20%, whichever is greater”. This means that works that might be made in the future are not covered.

You might find yourself siding with Christophe Van de Weghe, who at the end of the article throws up his hands with a quote that begins, “The photography market can be annoying.”

William Eggleston’s Popularity Has Grave Implications