William Eggleston's Untitled, 1971-1974 will be on PHILLIPS PHOTOGRAPHS, NEW YORK sale, October 3, 2017.
With its crimson angularity splashing across the foreground, William Eggleston's bold and dynamic Untitled, 1971-1974 can only truly exist in color. Although influenced by the legendary street photographers Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston chose to break away from traditional black and white photography, and began experimenting with color in the late 1960s. At that time, critics, the public, and many photographers, associated color photography with the commercial rather than fine art. None of this deterred Eggleston, whose highly saturated, vivid images of the southern United States are now held in universal regard.
Eggleston shows us that there is nothing more elaborate or beautiful than the rich, material complexity of the unassuming everyday built environment. In Untitled, 1971-1974, bold colors, shapes, and planes intersect and repeat, forming a dynamic, almost Kandinsky-like Modernist composition from the not uncommon scene on the American highway system—police and bystanders congregated around a minor car accident. Rather than taking a photo-journalistic stance, Eggleston stands away from the scene on the distant overpass, eschewing any details that might provide circumstantial context, creating instead, a vivid study of color and form. In the present lot’s striking, large-scale presentation, we experience the full force and brilliance of Eggleston’s arresting composition.
Like many of Eggleston's photographs, the present lot is both semi-dislocated in time and space, providing the viewer with little hints to the specifics of the moment or location where the image was taken. Untitled, 1971-1974 comes from Eggleston's expansive series, Los Alamos. Named after the nuclear testing site in New Mexico, Los Alamos consists of images taken between 1966-1974 across the southern United States, from New Orleans to Santa Monica. A specific and evocative title for a sweeping series composed of distinctive places, people and moments, Los Alamos, like much of the American landscape, is a site for creation and destruction, and for William Eggleston, a place for endless experimentation and study.
Untitled, 1971-1974. Pigment print, printed later. 38 x 57 7/8 in. (96.5 x 147 cm) Overall 45 x 64 7/8 x 2 1/4 in. (114.3 x 164.8 x 5.7 cm). Signed in ink by the artist, titled, dated, numbered 1/2 in an unidentified hand in pencil, printed Eggleston Artistic Trust copyright credit reproduction limitation on a label affixed to the reverse of the flush-mount. Estimate $70,000 - 90,000.
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