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William Eggleston (American, b.1939)


Birth Place: Memphis, Tennessee


Who is photographer William Eggleston?

William Eggleston is an American photographer best known for popularizing color photos as well as his numerous photography books. Eggleston is unique to his peers in that he didn’t belong to any established school of thought, much of his advancements took place in seclusion -- away from other photographers of the time. This led to Eggleston experimenting with color, specifically dye-transfer printing, which would become one of his lasting legacies to photography.

Eggleston’s photograph, The Red Ceiling (1973) became a breakout hit for the young artist. It led to Eggleston teaching photography at Harvard for two years. His first portfolio was prepared in 1974, and led to multiple exhibitions for the young artist. His work has been featured in numerous institutions, notable publications, and art books. Some of his most notable works include William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), The Morals of Vision (1978), and William Eggleston’s Graceland (1984). The latter of these was a commissioned set of photographs of Elvis Presley’s mansion. Eggleston continues to create vibrant, innovative work to this day.

What kind of art does William Eggleston make?

William Eggleston is a photographer who was instrumental in the development of color photography in the 1960s.His adopting of the dye-transfer process led to a much more vibrant color photograph. Before then, color photography was mostly seen as a commercial form, but with his photograph, The Red Ceiling (1973) as well as his first MoMA exhibition in 1976 was considered a “watershed moment” for high art photography. His series Nightclub Portraits (1976) also showed that Eggleston had complete command of black and white photography as well. In addition to being a great photographer, Eggleston has also produced notable work in film (for John Huston’s film, Annie) and music. In 2017, Eggleston released an album of 13 experimental electronic soundscapes. Eggleston continues to innovate, even well into his 9th decade.

How did photographer William Eggleston get started?

William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis to a middle-class family. Eggleston was always something of an artist, though this manifested early in playing piano and working with electronics. Around the age of 15, Eggleston attended the Webb School where his artistic inclinations were actively discouraged by his teachers. This only made the young Eggleston all the more obsessed. He attended three colleges in five years, Vanderbilt University, Delta State College, and the University of Mississippi, though he never completed a degree. It was while he was at Vanderbilt that he was given his first camera, which led to him studying the works of renowned photographer Robert Frank. This would prove the turning point of his life.

How much are William Eggleston photographs worth?

William Eggleston work has an extremely wide array of value, his books can be had for less than a hundred dollars, but his prints can sell anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $400,000. The most ever paid for a William Eggleston photograph at auction is $422,500 for the piece Untitled, 1973 (1973) which sold on March 10th, 2012. This was part of a larger sale which in total fetched nearly six million. This was more than double what its initial estimates had expected.

Where to buy William Eggleston photographs for sale?

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How to value William Eggleston photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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