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Ralph Eugene Meatyard
A Fourfold Vision
HC 29 x 31 cm.
Nazraeli/ Fraenkel 2005

"John Russell remarks of Eugene Atget that "he knew what was worth looking at." I suspect that we have very little sense yet of the range of Gene Meatyard's eye. The spooky pictures have pride of place, but that is a distortion. There are thousands of unfamiliar prints, and more thousands of negatives that have still never been printed. Meatyard's printing was limited to his two weeks of annual vacation. His weekends were reserved for shooting the exterior world of central Kentucky and his particular interior monologues: the growth and changes in his family and friends, the sequences using masks such as The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater. Lucybelle was everybody in the world. That's a lot of folks.
Where to place him or how to rank him? This inscrutable, affable, kind man occupied his "own" place with an assurance that reminds me of other American originals: Albert Pinkham Ryder, John Flanagan, Bruce Goff, Cormac MacCarthy. Scott Joplin. All them boys came from Normal. They are also forms of mutating viruses and super-cosmic titanisms from a distant galaxy. Remember "The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers"? That feller cutting the grass- is that Gene Meatyard?" Contemporary Photographers --

"It is a cruel but fitting irony for a photographer as profoundly distrustful of appearances as Ralph Meatyard (1925-1972) was, that he should owe his posthumous recognition in part to being misunderstood as a precursor of art-school manufactured talents like Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Their success is testimony to little besides the profitability of indulging the undiminished need of an aging population of baby boomers to distance themselves from their ostensibly simple-minded, repressed parents." Mario Cutajar --


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