This volume - investigating the work of a particular photographer, in this case, Ralph Eugene Meatyard - comprises a 4000-word essay by an expert in the field, 55 photographs presented chronologically, each with a commentary, and a biography of the featured photographer....
|Title||:||Ralph Eugene Meatyard (Phaidon 55's)|
|Number of Pages||:||128 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Ralph Eugene Meatyard (Phaidon 55's) Reviews
This is a beautifully designed edition, with superb commentary on Meatyard's complex, intellectual images. He is often associated with the writers of Beat literature, his contemporaries, with whom he shared an interest in spiritual themes (I'm indebted to my friend Loni Reynolds whose thesis awakened my sensitivity to this crucial aspect of the Beats). This is perhaps most obvious when, as in the image above, he transforms his children into ragged, ghostly, discomforting angels. Usually symbolic, his work is also aesthetically strong; he used Ansel Adams' zone system and the tonal range of his images gives formal elegance to the starkest of his subjects, creating a sense of detachment. It's not surprising that frames, glass and mirrors frequently appear, like a constant reminder of the artist's consciousness.It's odd that this now seems naive and heavy-handed. The artist one senses behind this camera is emotionless, tyrannical, authoritarian, rigorously shaping and defining the scene/seen. I'm reminded that Impressionism and Expressionism in painting were in some ways responses to the rise of photography. The camera has the power to deny subjectivity and impose its eye as truth-maker. This is precisely what I feel happens with Meatyard, and even when his children gaze fiercely back, there is something subjected about them.
I love love love these photos! Many look and feel like Southern gothic, one of my favorite literary genres. There is a strong sense of place, a supernatural air, and a sense of menace, unpredictabilty, strangeness or surreality, and the macabre in the everyday. Two films came to mind when looking at these photos: Killer of Sheep and George Washington. Children are a big focus in both of those films, and I think at least one child puts on a strange mask in each film. The photography of Sally Mann also comes to mind. Both Meatyard and Sally Mann photographed their children and relatives in areas they were familiar with near their homes. Mann's photos of her children look maybe more graceful and ethereal, while Meatyard's look earthier, even while having a sense of the supernatural, and more disconcerting.Among the teachers that Ralph Eugene studied with were Aaron Siskind and Minor White. He was influenced by the Beats, Buddhism, and Surrealism. Much of his work, according to the author, seems to be interpretations of or influenced by stories he read and liked. The photographs look and feel like little stories too. The author said that the masks he used were influenced by Surrealists, Noh drama, halloween, and the Mask bar in Jack Kerouac's Subterraneans (now I'm curious to read this). He was also influenced by place names, and would go to places with interesting names and look to be inspired. Before looking at this book the photograph I was most familiar with was with was Romance from Ambrose Bierce #3, four people wearing bizarre masks while sitting on steps or bleachers with numbers on them. It is a a striking unforgettable image. But wow, there so many other great images by Meatyard. My appreaciation of those in this book were aided by the descriptions and interpretations by Judith Keller, who, at the time of publishing (2002) was the associate curator of photography at the J. Paul Getty museum. You can bet I'll be looking for more books of Meatyard's photographs!
This appears to be the same book ashttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...But it's not, even though the two covers are almost identical, and they were both published by Phaidon in 2002.The latter is supposedly another edition ofhttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...... which has memoirs by Guy Davenport. The Phaidon/Judith Keller book I'm reading has no Davenport text at all.Very mysterious. I'm still trying to track down the Davenport memoirs.Update: I found the version with the Davenport essay and memoir (which are hilarious, by the way). My suspicion is http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...is actually miscategorized as another edition of http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...
A great anthology, beautifully printed. Digs deeper than the well-known "Lucybelle Crater" photos and "dolls and mask" series, which were a revolution when Meatyard made them in the 60's and early 70's, but they're losing their interest now that every hipster has done a bunny mask photo. (Francesca Woodman was probably the last photographer who convincingly shot in Meatyard's style, before she threw herself out of a Brooklyn window over a boy in 1981. I think it's been imitation since then.)Keller chooses some of the major Meatyard photos, but also includes some of his less contrived, more natural portraits of his kids, who were usually his models, shot in various rural places around Kentucky and Illinois. (Guy Davenport thought it was a remarkable, outlandish fact that the extraordinary Meatyard grew up in the town of Normal, Illinois. Meatyard isn't as elegant as Sally Mann, and I've been amazed at how a photographer like Josef Koudelka tackles sort of the same turf without being at all contrived, but these are certainly edgy, fascinating images.Keller's essays are generally great, but she does make some factual mistakes about Kentucky, especially the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani south of Louisville, where Meatyard did some work with the monk Thomas Merton during the two years they knew each other. (Meatyard wrote Merton's obituary in a Lexington newspaper when he was electrocuted in Bangkok in 1968.)I thought Keller's reading of some of Meatyard's work in abandoned Southern spaces with his kids as being commentary on the Civil War or Southern identity was probably pretty off the mark. Meatyard was happy living well away from the center of the art world, but I don't think he wanted to be known as a "Southern" photographer or took much interest in regional history in itself. (If he went to a place called Shoulderblade, Kentucky, I don't think he was trying to portray the South there. It was the name that seemed puzzling, rich, and strange, not its Southerness). Zen, Surrealism, mysticism, and masks were Meatyard's big things, even as he was photographing in Cassius Clay's abandoned mansion in Lexington, or helped Wendell Berry create a book on the Red River Gorge (a book that saved that place from the Corps of Engineers.) Having lived in central Kentucky, that's the first thing I see in all Meatyard's photos, but I don't think Meatyard was really creating work about "spirit of place" nearly as much as he was getting at the mystical and universal beneath the superficial Southern (or occasionally Midwestern) mask.Still, a great book, and the only Meatyard book in print that doesn't cost a fortune.