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Ralph Eugene Meatyard
Untitled (Boy Making Gesture) [Michael and Christopher]

1959/1974

$4,200

About

From a portfolio of ten gelatin silver prints from original Meatyard negatives (1959-71) Printed April 1974 Edition of 130 Credit stamp, verso 7 x 7 inches, image 15 x 12 inches, mount This photograph is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City. “In the 1950s few photographers, particularly men, chose their models from their own families. Meatyard, however, found inspiration in his three offspring. This was perhaps due to his interest in Ben Shahn’s postwar paintings of Italian children playing among the ruins of war; the dolls, puppets, and children in Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry; and the dwarves, elves, and hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasies. But he did not emphasize their innocence. Instead, he cultivated their uninhibited nature, unpredictable gestures, and natural acting abilities. The weathered rural architecture provides the kind of abstract elements—the horizontal slats of wood against the strong verticals of the barn-like structure—that Meatyard preferred as context for his figures.” —Judith Keller, Ralph Eugene Meatyard (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 2002), pp. 34-35 An optician by trade, Ralph Eugene Meatyard was a self-described “dedicated amateur” photographer. He 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 1950s, he began incorporating monstrous, oversized latex masks and hands into his photographs, in addition to plastic dolls. His family and friends were the protagonists in his carefully composed scenes. For Meatyard, who was inspired by literature, 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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