Ralph Eugene Meatyard (Kentucky/Illinois, 1925 – 1972)
Silver gelatin print
Exhibition label from Cincinnati Art Museum “Cincinnati Collects Photographs”, 1985
Ralph Eugene Meatyard was an optician residing in Lexington Kentucky, as well as an experimental American photographer who practiced his art on weekends and holidays. Despite his amateur status, which he proudly proclaimed, he is recognized as an important contributor to expressive photography in the 20th century. He purchased his first camera in 1950 at the time of the birth of his first son, and in 1954 he joined the Lexington Camera Club. There he met and was influenced by avant garde photographer Van Deren Coke (New Mexico/California, 1921 – 2004) Meatyard explored many abstract photographic techniques including multiple exposures and blurred motion, as well as surreal and dreamlike subject matter, often photographing his friends and family in grotesque carnival-like masks. While Meatyard’s work was celebrated during his lifetime, after his premature death at the age of 46 in 1972, his work was largely forgotten for the remainder of the 20th century. However, in the 21st century his work has reemerged as original and groundbreaking within the context of contemporary photography. Meatyard’s work resides in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA, J. Paul Getty Museum, The Eastman Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery, among others.
- wear to edges of photograph; toning to support sheet; scattered accretion to reverse of glazing; stains and accretion to mat; scratches to frame.
- measures frame; image measures 7.25" W x 7.25" H.