Lucybelle Crater posts to Metafilter
May 28, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

"The Photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard (May 15, 1925 - May 7, 1972) suffered a fate common to artists who are very much of but also very far ahead of their time. Everything about his life and his art ran counter to the usual and expected patterns. He was an optician, happily married, a father of three, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, and coach of a boy's baseball team." "His images had nothing to do with the gritty "street photography" of the east coast or the romantic view camera realism of the west coast. His best known images were populated with dolls and masks, with family, friends and neighbors pictured in abandoned buildings or in ordinary suburban backyards." His most well known and last photography series "The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater" (1972) was based on the short story by Flannery O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own."

A Gallery of more of his stuff has been put up by George Eastman House Still Photograph Archive.
posted by Del Far (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The Baltimore Museum of Art has some of his stuff up now, in the "Looking Through the Lens: Photography 1900–1960" exhibit. Great stuff.
posted by sidereal at 9:40 AM on May 28, 2008

Oh, I'm jealous, have you gone already to see it? If so, how was it?
posted by Del Far at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2008

wow! thanks for this!
posted by space2k at 9:46 AM on May 28, 2008

It's a good thing the adult in the "abandoned buildings" link was a woman.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:00 AM on May 28, 2008

always like Meatyard: Southern Gothic at its finest.
posted by ornate insect at 10:05 AM on May 28, 2008

No hyperbole here at all: This is one of the most beautiful, affecting images I've ever seen in my life. I could stare at it for hours. Meatyard was a genius.
posted by felix betachat at 10:13 AM on May 28, 2008

Meatyard is one of my favorite photographers. I recently unearthed a book I had of his (sadly, it's now packed up, without proper time to fully appreciate it). This post is great.
posted by piratebowling at 11:22 AM on May 28, 2008

I did not know about him before. Thanks!
posted by gimonca at 11:58 AM on May 28, 2008

Guy Davenport, a fellow Lexington resident and friend of his, wrote a superb essay about R.E.M. following his death. I've seen it in a couple different books, including Davenport's The Geography of the Imagination, a portion of which you can read on Google Books.
posted by cobra libre at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2008

It's kind of misleading to say that he was ahead of his time. That was true of all the great modern American photographers to some extent. I know when I worked in a photography gallery in the mid-seventies -- which was pretty much when fine art photography first started to get a significant gallery presence -- Meatyard was one of a tiny number of photographers with an Aperture Monograph published, something that pretty much secured your prices in the market. Sure, he was dead by then, but before that point, nobody's work sold for shit anyway.

And prior to the 70's, virtually the only photography books that really got published were reportage and a little fashion. There's a reason why first editions of books like Robert Frank's The Americans, and Larry Clark's Tulsa sell for outlandish sums today -- it's because nobody bought them when they first got published.

Nice post though, despite my pedantic quibbling.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2008

Mmm. Meatyard.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:09 PM on May 28, 2008

Thanks, Del Far. Those were really wonderful. I can't stop staring at the same one felix betachat linked above.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:01 PM on May 28, 2008

Del Far - the whole exhibit was excellent, many famous photos. I went twice. BMA always does a fabulous presentation with lots of thoughtful information posted by the pieces.

Open 2 more weeks, hop on the bus and get down here! :)
posted by sidereal at 6:29 PM on May 28, 2008

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