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Thread: Meatyard Landscapes

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Lexington, Ky.

    Re: Meatyard Landscapes


    I was googling Meatyard's name just now and found this thread and thought I might contribute, if you're still out there.

    I was a student of two of Meatyard's friends/students while I was student at U.K. in Lexington, Ky. I also met several people who come up in writings about Meatyard; the late Guy Davenport and others who were professors in the English Dept. at U.K. I still live in Lexington and in fact my house, where I'm sitting right now, is just over a city block from Imperial Plaza Shopping Center where Meatyard had his optometry business, "Eyeglases of Kentucky." When I first moved to Lexington in the early '80s someone was still operating the business and the sign included a gigantic pair of glasses attached to the roof over the doorway. I hadn't heard of Meatyard at the time, but I do remember the giant glasses. The shop is no longer there, and I think the space in the shopping center that was his is now a Chinese restaurant.

    The info I was given is that he used a twin lens Rolleiflex in 2 1/4" format. I have seen very early shots of his that used 35mm. I have only read that it was a rangefinder Leica. The early 35mm shots were simpler and often candids, but still usually had some "disturbing" about them even then. For example, the focal point being a strange position of a hand or arm in an otherwise completely typical snapshot.

    I don't know if he had running water in his darkroom or not...but he did live in quite a normal city suburb, also not far from here. If he lacked running water in his darkroom it might have been explained by the fact that his darkroom was most likely not a permanent one. He would typically accumulate undeveloped rolls of film throughout the year and then develop and print them all at once sometime in the winter. Remember - he was not a professional photographer.

    I do not think he was alienated from society in any way. There are some things I can't reconcile either, but he was apparently president of his P.T.A. for a time, and when you ask someone who knew him to describe him, they invariably say he was just a normal guy. I seem to remember someone saying he said he was strongly influenced by Minor White. Van Deren Coke would have been another influence.

    A friend of his who worked in a very similar style was the late Robert May, who was an IBM engineer in Lexington. May is a bit more refined and technical, often sepia toned, and loses some of the gothic quality of Meatyard. Also look into Guy Mendes and Bones Carpenter and anything having to do with The Lexington Camera Club in the 1950s. The University of Louisville has a huge collection of original Meatyard prints.

    Good luck,

  2. #22

    Join Date
    Jul 1998
    Lund, Sweden

    Re: Meatyard Landscapes

    Many thanks for the reply Jim. Twiggy abstracts have grown to become a recurrent theme in my own photography and it is always good to hear new things about one of my inspirations.

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