Ogden Museum of Southern Art Announces: The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard

September 13, 2022

(New Orleans, LA) – The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is excited to announce a new exhibition of the visionary photographer, Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard will open on October 1, 2022 and features photographs on loan from the Fraenkel Gallery, Ralph Eugene Meatyard estate and the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

Ralph Eugene Meatyard was a visionary photographer known for his dreamlike black-and-white photographs of family members in masks, elegant portraits of bohemian friends and radical experiments in abstraction. Meatyard’s unique visual language was the product of a naturally curious mind stimulated by a love of literature and the spoken word. His shadowy photographs – often featuring dark, dilapidated locales populated by enigmatic characters – have drawn comparisons to Southern Gothic literature.

Meatyard’s interest in Zen Buddhism guided his intuitive process for making photographs. His practice relied upon the photographer achieving a “sensitized state,” putting trust in the mind’s eye instead of intellect to clearly see the intricacies of the physical world. Meatyard’s metaphysical approach to picture-making helped redefine the genre of fine-art photography in the 1960s. Through a myriad of complex projects, many predicated upon the constructed or staged photograph. Meatyard created “tableau vivants” filled with symbolic language that served as signifiers in the creation of the artist’s visual vocabulary. Meatyard’s subjective use of the camera has since influenced new generations of photographers. Today, he is recognized as a pioneer of surreal, experimental, and nonobjective photography.

Meatyard was an integral part of Kentucky’s post-war art and literary intelligentsia. His circle of friends included photographers, painters, poets, scholars, writers, and philosophers.  Meatyard’s interest in photography grew from his professional life as a practicing optician and working knowledge of lens technology. A desire to document his growing family led to his purchasing a camera in 1950. From the 1950s onward, he would photograph exclusively in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky and the surrounding countryside.

“Ralph Eugene Meatyard is one of the most important photographers to emerge from the American South. He was a true renaissance man who redefined the language of photography through a series of projects that pushed the boundaries of the camera beyond a mere vehicle for capturing reality,” stated Richard McCabe, Curator of Photography, Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

The Museum exhibition of Meatyard’s work will feature over 60 of these photographs divided into four distinct themes or bodies of work – Portraits, Romance, Sound and Abstractions, and The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater. The public will have the opportunity to explore Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s innovative and unconventional photography from October 1, 2022 until January 15, 2023 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

A complete list of exhibitions can be found by visiting www.ogdenmuseum.org.

About Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 1999 and open to the public since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to experience and learn about the artists and culture of the American South. Ogden Museum is home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside Southern traditions of music, literature and local craft.

Ogden Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older, $6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5.

The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information visit ogdenmuseum.org or call 504.539.9650.