Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being
Edited with text by Stuart Horodner, Janie M. Welker. Text by Roger Ballen, Julian Cox, Emmet Gowin, Marvin Heiferman, Corey Keller, Judy Linn, Christopher Meatyard, Duane Michals, Andrea Modica, Laurel Nakadate, Catherine Opie.
University of Kentucky Art Museum
Pub Date: 4/23/2019
Years ago, a friend (who is not necessarily a photoweenie) mentioned that he was a huge fan of Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s photographs. I had to admit that I was unaware of his work, as was most everyone I asked about him. I had to search far and wide to see any mention of his work and very few other friends were aware of him. Since then, his work has gained substantial awareness and he has become a cult hero.
In my mind, I originally categorized him as the guy who shoots slightly bizarre shots of kids, dolls, and masks.
In Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being the work presented goes well beyond that, and as Janie M. Welker states in her introductory essay, “There are certainly masks and dolls to be found on these pages, but this publication avoids many of his most canonical works in favor of a trove of nuanced and often lesser-known images that allow us to discover his gifts anew."
Besides being a beautifully designed presentation of Ralph’s work, Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being includes observations on individual photographs by Roger Ballen, Julian Cox, Emmet Gowin, Marvin Heiferman, Corey Keller, Judy Linn, Christopher Meatyard, Duane Michals, Andrea Modica, Laurel Nakadate, and Catherine Opie.
Duane Michals says of one photograph, “Can you imagine how much courage it took to be REM? An outlier outside the official photo world, with its awards, comforts, and easy recognitions. No, it was not for him to hear his name called in the halls of photo fame. He did it. He did this thing and sang his own songs a cappella without an orchestra.”
Roger Ballen says of another image, “We are confronted with a world that is dominated by chaos. It is quite clear that he understood that the human condition is dominated by disorder, breakdown, and ultimately death. No matter how hard we try to order our lives, no matter how much we depend on science to provide certainty, unpredictability and chance play the dominant roles in life."
Emmet Gowin says, “The work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard is the work of an American original. Everything about his photographs speaks for and of the right and importance of human imagination. If we did not dream, life would be a lot less interesting.”
If you are even a casual fan or Ralph’s photography, this book is a joy and will definitely broaden your understanding and appreciation of his work.
I’ve included information about the book below.