Emmet Gowin on Ralph Eugene Meatyard

A quick image search on 12/07/2019 at 11:00am
produces a plethora of  images by Ralph Eugene Meatyard
I recently purchased a book/catalogue of an exhibition of Ralph Eugene Meatyards work. The exhibition was held at the University of Kentucky Art Museum, from the 8th of September to the 9th of December 2018. The book contains images of his work that I had not seen before. It also contains short pieces of text by other artists who respond to or knew him. Emmet Gowin is one such artist.
This is the image from page 103
and is the one refereed to by Emmet Gowin
He is one of the few modernist photographers from America who I have the good fortune to spend a little time with. He came to Australia in the mid 1990s, and ran a seminar and gave a lecture. I was privileged to be able to attend both.

Here is his quote from page 102.
“This time the mask is in here hand. This tie the mask isn't needed, nature has provided the transformation.

Normally, the female adult in Gene’s pictures is his wife Madelyn. This time I’m unsure. And still, i think it is. For there is a rare level of intimacy in this image, of warm flesh, the whole body is ready and moving forward. And there is a ripeness, a willow thinness, and the sensuous curve of her jaw and chin and the fullness of her breasts. Thisis a real women fully alive.

In 1966 when this image was made, Gene was at the height of his visionary powers. We first mt the next year. I had just finished Graduate school and was beginning to teach in Ohio. Even before we settled in, a postcard arrived from Gene: “We hear you are ging to be good, send me your thesis, I want to show it at Eyeglasses of Kentucky.” Happily, I already recognised Gene as one of the three most important visionary photographers in America, so I did not hesitate.

Over the next five years we met at least a dozen times. In 1970, Gene travelled to Dayton to meet photographer-philosopher Frederick Sommer. Each recognized the other as a Master Artist. In spite of the many differences there was a genuine kinship. Both were visionaries of the fist order.”Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles.” Sommer tells us. “If we did not dream, reality would collapse.”*

The work of Ralpg Eugen Meatyard is the work of an American original. Everything about his photography speaks for and of the right and importance of human imagination,If we did not dream, life would be less interesting.
*Frederick Sommer, “Frederick Sommer: 1939-1962 Photographs: Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller images Tomorrow,” Aperture 10, no, 4[40] (1962): 163
The images in the book are finely reproduced even though many I have never seen before.

To hear a story about the relationship between two of my favourite photographers being described in such glowing terms make me glad I do what I do.

Roger Ballen also has a quote, along with Duanne Michals & Marvin Heiferman.

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