Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925–1972) lived in Lexington, Kentucky, where he made his living as an optician while creating an impressive and enigmatic body of photographs. Meatyard’s creative circle included mystics and poets, such as Thomas Merton and Guy Davenport, as well as the photographers Cranston Ritchie and Van Deren Coke, who were mentors and fellow members of the Lexington Camera Club. Meatyard’s work spanned many genres and experimented with new means of expression, from dreamlike portraits—often set in abandoned places—to multiple exposures, motion-blur, and other methods of photographic abstraction. He also collaborated with his friend Wendell Berry on the 1971 book The Unforeseen Wilderness, for which Meatyard contributed photographs of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. Meatyard’s final series, The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater, are cryptic double portraits of friends and family members wearing masks and enacting symbolic dramas.
Selected Works
Zen #2, 1959
gelatin silver print, 7 1/4 x 7 inches (image), 14 x 11 inches (frame)
Untitled, 1960
gelatin silver print, 6 3/4 x 6 7/8 inches (image), 14 x 11 inches (frame)
Untitled, 1957
gelatin silver print, 6 1/4 x 7 inches (image), 14 x 11 inches (frame)
To Bough and To Bend review for the Los Angeles Times
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