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Save for his unusual name, Ralph Eugene Meatyard had all the trappings of an ordinary man. Born in 1925 in the Illinois town of Normal, the happily married father of three worked as an optician, coached his son’s baseball team, and even served as president of the Parent-Teacher Association.
But in his free time, Meatyard was also a self-taught photographer with a taste for the bizarre. On weekend trips into the dense woods of Kentucky, he staged nightmarish scenarios acted out by family members and populated with disfigured masks, broken mirrors, and dolls. In 1969, when asked about the sensation his photographs provoked, the suburban dad said it was a feeling “akin to a shiver, and pleasurable as a shiver sometimes is.” He called these unsettling images “romances,” adopting the definition of that word from Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary: “Fiction that owes no allegiance to the God of Things as They Are.” It’s safe to say that when Meatyard died of cancer at the age of 47 in 1972, he left behind one of the weirdest photographic oeuvres the world had then yet known.
Wildly Strange: The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard at the Blanton Museum in Austin welcomes viewers into Meatyard’s eerie world through 35 images from the collection of the Harry Ransom Center. Taken between 1958 and 1970, they include the photographer’s classic mask images and landscapes, as well as dust jacket portraits he took for writer friends like Guy Davenport, Wendell Berry, and Thomas Merton. Though Meatyard believed photographs should be “felt in a similar way as one listens to music, emotionally, without expecting a story,” the images in the show can’t help but bring to mind Edgar Allan Poe’s famous lines: “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, / Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
Wildly Strange: The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard continues at the Blanton Museum of Art (200 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Austin, Texas) through June 21.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
Works by Rodolfo Abularach, Mario Bencomo, Denise Carvalho, Pérez Celis, Entes, and Agustín Fernandéz are on view at the NYC gallery through January 7, 2022.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
“Ecosystem X,” an art-based reimagining of life on planet Earth, is the theme of this open call. 10 artists will win $5,000 and one student will receive $5,000 as a scholarship/stipend.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.