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  1. #1
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Discuss a Ralph Eugene Meatyard Photograph

    Meatyard is one of my favorite photographers, and since it's been a little quiet here, I figure it's time to discuss his work. I think he's best well know for his series of masked figures he titled the family photographs of Lucybell Krater or some such. I prefer the work he made of his kids in decaying houses and buildings in the Kentucky countryside.

    The first link is to a specific photograph. This kid is flying somehow without flying. I love it! Second link is to some more thumbnails.

    Your thoughts on his work?

    http://www.geh.org/ne/str085/htmlsrc...tml#topofimage

    http://www.geh.org/ne/str085/htmlsrc...l#86:1268:0021

  2. #2
    arigram's Avatar
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    I love Meatyard.
    His work is a cross between Diane Arbus and Sally Mann: weird, sureal, sometimes disturbing posed photographs of his immediate family.
    aristotelis grammatikakis
    www.arigram.gr
    Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
    no digital additives and shit




  3. #3

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    I had never heard of him until now. I don't think I have missed a lot. I may be too conventional but most seem a little fuzzy to me and whatever he is trying to convey fails to reach me.

    Not for me

    pentaxuser

  4. #4

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    Meatyard was one of my early photographer heros. He died about the same time I became interested in photography. I've read a lot about him and his work and several critques of his work but it's been some time ago and my memory is fuzzy. Much of his photography concerned identity, hence the mentioned masks used in numerous of his pictures. His Lucybelle Crater photo series is the best example of this but it also appears in many of his other photographs. If I remember correctly, he offered very few hints of his personal motivations in making his enigmatic photos.

    Speaking of being conventional, Meatyard lived a relatively conventional life as a fairly conservative Southern optician and pursued photography in a local camera club. He became influential in photography despite being physically isolated from any major cultural center. And despite the "artsiness" of his photographs, he was apparently low-key and unpretentions.

    I like most of his pictures that I have seen. They are all open to interpretation by the viewer.

  5. #5
    matti's Avatar
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    Thanks! Never heard of him either. (But then I don't know a lot of photographers.) But I like this a lot. A lot of the current work is too much in your face to make me want to look closer.
    oops have to get back to agitate my semai-stand!
    /matti

  6. #6

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    I've always loved his work, thanks Suzanne for posting these.

    To me his work is not so much about the stark reality and documentary of his subjects (as with Arbus and also Sally Mann) but more to do with inner landscapes and dreams. He somehow challenges (or invites) us to make projections and then asks why we should do so.. and why we need to analyse anything anyway. A lot of his work I find beautiful, or amusing, in quite a simple way (in the best sense) it gives you a jolt of surprise, a pleasure at the unexpected. I really like that.

  7. #7
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser View Post
    I had never heard of him until now. I don't think I have missed a lot. I may be too conventional but most seem a little fuzzy to me and whatever he is trying to convey fails to reach me.

    Not for me

    pentaxuser
    I wouldn't dismiss his work too quickly based on web scans. See if your library can get a copy of ICP's Ralph Eugene Meatyard book. His prints are small and just wonderful little bizarre worlds that are probably best appreciated in person, or at the very least, through a book.

  8. #8
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    I enjoy his work - although of the second link - I found the first photo to be, well...blurry.

    But I really liked the "stick man - twig". That is an eye for the "unusual from the usual" that I wish I had. Oh, how many times I've shot macros like that but never found a "dancing stick man" like he did!

    I'm going back into the woods behind the house tomorrow and see if I can find one!

    Thanks, Suzanne.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    I enjoy his work - although of the second link - I found the first photo to be, well...blurry.
    It's also odd that the boy doesn't seem to have any arms.

    I don't mean to be sarcastic (really! ) - but isn't that the whole point?

    Sometimes we need to look beyond what's conventionally 'unacceptable' (I say that with extreme caution) - Is that really so very hard? (I begin to think, sometimes, that it is...)

  10. #10

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    I have seen to the first image before and have always liked it. The key to that image for me is the blurring of the arms in movment and the graphic of paint(?) and the open pipe/conduit above his head. That part of the image looks like a pair of wings or an abstract bird. It is a compelling combination of something static and something moving. That graphic element I think lets the viewer subconsciously project the idea of flying onto the boy. Also gives me a feeling of simple joy and whimsy in play.

    Perhaps Meatyard saw the samething in the wall and asked the boy to wave his arms. Still makes it a good photograph.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

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