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Ralph Eugene Meatyard

American, 1925–1972

383 followers

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Bio

American, 1925–1972

Followers
383
Biography

By vocation an optician, by avocation a self-described “dedicated amateur” photographer, Ralph Eugene Meatyard pursued his own vision to produce an exquisitely enigmatic, widely admired body of work. Meatyard began taking photographs in 1950, roaming the backwoods and towns in Kentucky, experimenting with framing, multiple exposures, and blurring to produce haunting, abstracted images of natural and manmade environments. In the late ’50s, he began incorporating monstrous, oversized latex masks and hands, and plastic dolls into his photographs. His family and friends were the protagonists in his carefully composed scenes, their heads consumed by the masks, plastic dolls often arranged about them. For Meatyard, who was inspired by Zen Buddhism and jazz, the masks served to equalize his subjects and shift focus elsewhere—to the poignant juxtaposition of otherworldly faces on human bodies, to the ambiguous and unknowable in human nature.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
International Center of Photography (ICP)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more
Biography

By vocation an optician, by avocation a self-described “dedicated amateur” photographer, Ralph Eugene Meatyard pursued his own vision to produce an exquisitely enigmatic, widely admired body of work. Meatyard began taking photographs in 1950, roaming the backwoods and towns in Kentucky, experimenting with framing, multiple exposures, and blurring to produce haunting, abstracted images of natural and manmade environments. In the late ’50s, he began incorporating monstrous, oversized latex masks and hands, and plastic dolls into his photographs. His family and friends were the protagonists in his carefully composed scenes, their heads consumed by the masks, plastic dolls often arranged about them. For Meatyard, who was inspired by Zen Buddhism and jazz, the masks served to equalize his subjects and shift focus elsewhere—to the poignant juxtaposition of otherworldly faces on human bodies, to the ambiguous and unknowable in human nature.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
International Center of Photography (ICP)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more